Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cycling in the National Curriculum

I write this not with a cast iron view, but more as a cathartic process to explore my own thoughts and to open the floor to the views of others.

As I write, the collective 'powers that be' in cycling, British Cycling and the CTC are asking their members to urge the DoE to put Cycling on the National Curriculum, utilising a consultation the department are going through. 

"This consultation sets out the Government’s plans to reform the National Curriculum in England. It follows a review of the National Curriculum which was launched in January 2011 with the following aims:
  • to ensure that the new National Curriculum embodies rigour and high standards and creates coherence in what is taught in schools
  • to ensure that all children are taught the essential knowledge in the key subject disciplines
  • beyond that core, to allow teachers greater freedom to use their professionalism and expertise to help all children realise their potential.
The National Curriculum continues to be statutory for all maintained schools. It also guides much of what is taught in many schools that have opted for academy status."
On the surface, the idea that the collective membership of the CTC and BC are called to arms for the greater good of preserving childhoods, seems like a noble cause.  But part of me cannot help but feel cynical.
The idea that all children having Bikeability training will somehow result in a mass uptake in cycling is laughable at the very least.  In Trafford, all children in year 5/6 receive Bikeability training, yet where are the bike sheds in the local secondary schools groaning under the weight of these newly converted to the church of two wheels?
Its simply doesn't happen.  The danger their parents feel they will be in when they cycle, whether real or perceived, means that more often than not, most children never touch their bike again apart from the odd ramble in Centreparks or the local park. 
I also can't help shake the feeling, that certain organisations are trying to line their pockets. An increase in cycle training provision, sounds like jobs for the boys to me. Especially when one of the main campaigners also provides said training....
"British Cycling has delivered Bikeability training to thousands of adults and children since 2009 through schools and summer holiday courses. Over 2,000 young people have participated in Bikeability training with British Cycling since 2009. British Cycling has also trained over 600 Bikeability instructors"

And a surge in people cycling isn't going to harm BC's or the CTC's membership figures now is it?

I do concede we have to start somewhere. I also realise that those who have had training are more likely to cycle.  And that if more people cycle then 'we' are a greater lobbying group with a bigger collective voice.  But I just do not believe training kids to 'cope' with the current situation and then using them almost as cannon fodder for the greater cause is acceptable.

Using the momentum of the Olympics, the surge in popularity of cycling recently and the fantastic Times Campaign, I can only feel that the combined voice of BC and CTC could've been put to better use to ask for safer routes to schools for example.  

I just feel like the National Curriculum request, is one big fat red herring.  

But then again, if enough people ask for it, does it demonstrate to the government the importance of taking cycling seriously? Or does it tick a box for them to say they are at least providing training rather than sorting the problem at hand?


  1. I think I'm with you on this one. I cycle every day, but it's no thanks to my "cycling proficiency" course (many years ago) which I found patronising and unhelpful.

    Busy roads and traffic are far more likely to put me off than a lack of training (or unhelpful training) and they certainly make me less comfortable about getting my kids cycling.

    I've commented to this effect on Dave Horton's blog.

    1. Thanks for that Tim. We are in a similar position. When attached to me via a tag along, I felt relatively safe with my son on the road. With things the way they are there is little chance of him being able to cycle to school independently no matter how much training he gets. By the time he gets bikeability he will have had the best part of 6-7yrs cycle training with me.

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