Much better than shivering on a football pitch
Two primary schools in Gloucestershire are giving pupils aged seven to eleven the option to choose mountain biking as a sport in P.E.
Recent changes have allowed schools to bring in new sports to the P.E curriculum and Stuart Rochford, who was already a Bikeability instructor, decided that mountain biking would be a great alternative to traditional team sports like football. He started with just one rural school, but now teaches at a second and is in discussion with two more.
The sessions run once a week during term time and teach a variety of mountain biking and practical skills. Rochford says: “Each session focusses on a particular technique or combination of core mountain biking skills: braking, weight transfer/body position, cornering, gear use, climbing and descending, all aiming at getting the kids ready for a trip into the local woods and forests. They are always combined with some mountain biking games and races of course.”
As well as P.E, the program also teaches children about Geography, PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic curriculum) and local history.
Unfortunately the children currently have to provide their own bike and kit but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a mountain bike or even have gears. Rochford says: “They can’t use a road bike or slicks on their wheels for obvious reasons, though it would be fun trying! It’s hilly round here so gears are useful but learning to push bikes uphill seems part of the activity for most during the trips in the woods.”
Rochford is hoping this will spread around the UK, he says: “With the right publicity perhaps it might become a more acceptable form of activity in PE lessons, as not everyone likes the traditional team sports.” Here’s hoping!