Catching the “bike bug” at Burnley Road Academy: Meet Ted Theaker, Deputy Headteacher

Ted Theaker, Deputy Head at Burnley Road Academy, pictured with pupils from the school

Burnley Road Academy, Mytholmroyd, is CityConnect’s first Bike Friendly School in Calderdale.

Last autumn the CityConnect team provided free training for pupils from years one through to four, teaching children to use a balance bike, learn to ride and improve their cycling skills.

We caught up with Ted Theaker, Deputy Headteacher at Burnley Road Academy, to hear how CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme has benefitted pupils, parents and teachers.

We’re quite a large village school down in the valley with about 250 pupils, ranging from nursery age through to year six.

There’s limited parking around the school and only one road through the valley, which means traffic can be challenging for parents dropping their children off by car, particularly when there are ongoing roadworks too.

From boosting physical activity to instilling good travel habits that last a life time, we know encouraging more of our pupils to cycle, scoot and walk brings real benefits.

There’s a real opportunity for people to travel in different ways due to the school’s proximity to the canal towpath, particularly for those coming from Hebden Bridge.

Up until our involvement with the Bike Friendly Schools scheme we just offered Bikeability training for years five and six.

Not every child at the school has a bike of their own. We want to give everyone an opportunity to learn to ride a bike, or scooter, and to gain the confidence and independence that comes with it.

Being involved in the Bike Friendly Schools scheme has been a really positive experience, allowing us to open up these opportunities to more of our pupils.

Some children were a bit wobbly in the morning but by then end of the training every single child in every single class could ride properly, and had improved their cycling skills, as well as their understanding of road safety.

Seeing the excitement and pride on the children’s faces, and those of the trainers and teachers, was just wonderful.

Since then more and more children have been coming to school by bike or scooter.

Before the scheme about five or six children would travel to school in this way but now it’s between 20 and 30. Our racks are full of bikes and scooters.

Now we’ve got such a strong base to work from, we want to build on that momentum and get more and more of our pupils travelling to school by bike or on scooter.

We’ve got the bike bug now, from nursery upwards, including me - I actually dusted off my own bike and cycled to the shop instead of jumping in the car after seeing how much the pupils were enjoying it.

Find out more information about CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme.