PUPILS are being encouraged to get on their bikes and ride on time to school in a new initiative to improve attendance.
Katesgrove Primary is piloting the scheme in which selected children are lent a bicycle to get to school which they can keep if they hit attendance targets at the end of the year.
The initiative, called Ride on Time, could be rolled out to other schools if it proves to be a success.
Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) are working on the project with the school and have agreed to supply used bicycles which have been recovered from local railway stations and teach children about railway safety.
The pupils will also be provided with a police-approved bicycle lock, the bike will be security marked and the riders will be issued with a cycle helmet and high visibility vest.
Avanti Cycling will offer the children cycling tuition by a professionally trained Bikeability Instructor and plan an agreed cycle route between home and school. The bikes will also be checked and maintained regularly.
The aim is to identify five or six children from Years 5/6 each year from participating schools to take part in the initiative with the target of improving attendance and reducing late attendance.
Pupils who achieve the agreed targets will be able to keep the bike and the equipment at the end of the school year.
Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Member for Education, said: “There can be a variety of different reasons why children are late for school but the result is they miss the start of lessons and disrupt classes.
“Ride on Time is an imaginative way of tackling attendance problems at schools while also helping children to get daily exercise and reduce the number of parents dropping off children in their cars.
“I’d like to thank all the partner organisations which are supporting this excellent project and to wish it every success.”
British Transport Police are providing high security D-locks and security marking the bikes. Avanti Cycling are assisting with the initial bike maintenance, safe cycle training and route planning.
Cycle safety at level crossings will also be an important part of the project with children being taught how to cross the railway line safely at crossings when they approach them on their bicycles.
Steve Melanophy, Community Safety Manager Electrification, Western Route, Network Rail, said: “Network Rail and BTP are very happy to be part of this exciting project and provide the necessary skills and education to the children when approaching Level Crossings across the Western Route Railway.”
Inspector Paul Martin from British Transport Police said: “We are delighted to be involved with this initiative, which will hopefully give local children new skills, improve their attendance and give them a better feeling of self-worth, while also teaching them important lessons in railway safety.
“It is also satisfying to know that discarded bikes will get a new lease of life under this project and we look forward to supporting the scheme throughout the school year.”
Notes for Editors:
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: You are invited to send a reporter/photographer to Katesgrove Primary School, Dorothy Street, Reading, RG1 2NL, at 8.45am on Monday 26th September where one of the children selected to take part in Ride on Time will be greeted by partners in the scheme as he arrives on his bike.
Bikeability is the national cycle training scheme that aims to give children the skills and confidence to ride safely on today’s roads. The Council has recently received confirmation of funding from the Department for Transport until March 2020 to the value of over £190,000. Funding will enable over 4,500 children to take part in Bikeability Levels 1 to 3 and provide over 750 places for new supporting modules delivered under the banner – Bikeability Plus. More information on Bikeability is available here: https://bikeability.org.uk/.