14 Feb 2017 Last updated at 10:00

Cycling together

Island teachers have attended a one-day Balanceability instructor training day to support them to be able to teach very young children to ride balance bikes, thanks to a grant from the council’s sustainable travel transition year programme, which is funded by the Department for Transport.

The team of 17 teachers from ten schools across the Island recently accessed the free training, resources and equipment with the aim of 600+ children, aged four to six, experiencing Balanceability cycle training over the next 12 months, to enable them to learn to ride bikes without stabilisers.

Executive member for transport and infrastructure, Councillor Ian Ward, said: “Learning to ride a bike is a major milestone and the Balanceability training will give teachers the skills to make sure children do so safely and confidently.

“Additional benefits for Island children will be healthy growth and development, independence and responsibility and will hopefully inspire a lifetime of sustainable travel. I look forward to finding out about how many children will have learnt to ride through this training.”

Northwood Primary School head of physical education, Mark Hill, said: “The training was well delivered, very enjoyable, and we are looking forward to rolling it out to our students.”

Headteacher of Nine Acres Primary, (Newport), Beth Dyer, said: “Nine Acres primary was pleased to be involved in the recent Balancability training. Our two members of staff came back to the school full of enthusiasm; we are looking forward to them delivering the program and are excited to see how it will impact the children.”

The training follows the successful bid to the government for the Sustainable Transport Transition Year(STTY) 2015/16 funding by the council. As a result, the council’s Sports Unit has been able to make funds available for local schools to build on the amount of children using sustainable transport such as scooting, walking and cycling as their method of getting to and from education. In response, 21 Island schools successfully applied for funding and shared £43,122 of STTY funding which has, in part, enabled the training so far of 20 school staff personnel to deliver cycling initiatives.

To encourage a range of different projects, the council’s Sports Unit partnered up with the national travel charity Sustrans, who are able to offer advice and support directly to schools regarding sustainable travel.

The Balanceability programme provides a 'Learn to Cycle' programme for Reception and Year One children (also starting with pre-school children aged from two and a half years). Balanceability is the UK’s only accredited “Learn to Cycle” programme, designed to help children gain the confidence and skills required to ride a pedal bike independently, getting them off to the best start in cycling and assisting their ability to participate in the Bikeability programme at a later stage in their school years. The programme is also supported by Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Chris Boardman.

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Teacher Ian Curry putting his training to the test.
Teacher Ian Curry putting his training to the test.
Factfile
  • Island teachers have attended a one-day Balanceability instructor training day to support them to be able to teach very young children to ride balance bikes.
  • The aim is to enable 600+ children, aged four to six, to learn to ride bikes without stabilisers.
  • The Balanceability instructor training has been funded through a grant from the council’s sustainable travel transition year funding.
 
Isle of Wight, UK