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Cambridge school head says he was shocked after a child was treated in intensive care

A headteacher is taking drastic action to make cycling safer - with detentions for children who cycle dangerously.

Ed Elliott, headmaster of the Perse School in Cambridge, was dismayed to see his charges cycling to and from lessons on poorly maintained bikes in a less than orderly fashion.

Pupils at the independent school, where fees are £17,000 a year, have been told they must wear high-visibility clothing, helmets and no headphones.

Those found to be flouting the rules face a letter home to parents or a detention, and teachers can report transgressions on and off school grounds.

“Everyone who cycles to school must wear high-visibility clothing, correctly fitted cycle helmets, they must have working front and rear lights, brakes and pedal reflectors,” Elliott told the Times. “I tell children off when they are wearing headphones to listen to music when cycling; you can’t hear the reversing sirens on an HGV if you have headphones on.

“We spend a lot of time talking to pupils to make sure they stop at red lights. It is amazing how many cyclists run red lights in a place like Cambridge.

“In a teaching career you will sometimes see children who die. Early on in my career a child I knew well was killed in a cycle accident. That changed my behaviour.”

Elliott added: “Last year 309 children were seriously injured in cycle accidents reported to the police and there were eight deaths. Those aged 10 to 15 are most at risk, particularly between eight and nine in the morning and three and six in the evening and that risk increases in the winter months.”

This summer Ewan Morris, 16, a GCSE pupil at the Perse, who cycles a mile or so to and from school, was treated in intensive care at Addenbrooke’s Hospital after coming off a bike. He was wearing a borrowed cycle helmet.

“I can’t remember what happened,” he said. “I was put into a medically induced coma and released after a few days. My helmet was split open at the back — and I think that saved my life.”

Elliott, also a cyclist, has a festive message for parents wondering what to get their kids for Christmas. “I will be encouraging parents to consider buying cycle safety gear. Children think they are invincible; we are trying to create a different mindset.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

43 comments

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drosco [428 posts] 1 month ago
19 likes

Unfortunately, this is pretty much all this website has become. Endless footage of 'near misses' and articles about helmets. Chuck in the odd overpriced jacket and there you go. Everything joyless about cycling.

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cyclisto [349 posts] 1 month ago
5 likes

If they require 17000 a year, it is sensible that someone has to shoot about their customer's safety. But for so much money they could hire somebody to drive a car behind each customer, do I have to do all the thinking?

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hirsute [63 posts] 1 month ago
6 likes

Perhaps hgvs should be equipped with reversing lights and have a banksman.

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Yorkshire wallet [1632 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

£17k on school fees but the kids have shitly maintained bikes?

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davel [2052 posts] 1 month ago
13 likes

Either Ed Elliott doesn't understand unintended consequences or he is deliberately reducing the numbers of kids cycling to his school.

Either way, I wouldn't be sending my kids to a school with such a chump in charge, even if it was free.

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brooksby [2806 posts] 1 month ago
9 likes

I was chatting to my sister in law yesterday. She's a teacher in an academy, a state secondary school; head of department and has been a teacher for twenty odd years. I was telling her about the other recent story about a head wanting kids to wear cycle helmets and have number plates. She said it's none of their business: staff are on site from an hour or so before and after the end of the school day, in case kids come in early or leave late, but that's it. She said it is not the schools responsibility what the kids do outside of school hours and off the school site (unless on school-arranged buses etc). The school could mandate helmets on school property, but that's the end of it.

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don simon [1713 posts] 1 month ago
7 likes
Quote:

Elliott, also a cyclist, has a festive message for parents wondering what to get their kids for Christmas. “I will be encouraging parents to consider buying cycle safety gear. Children think they are invincible; we are trying to create a different mindset.”

Are all cyclists thick twats?

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brooksby [2806 posts] 1 month ago
11 likes

And: how does young Mr Morris know that the helmet saved his life, if it was destroyed and he remembers nothing?

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Simon E [3180 posts] 1 month ago
8 likes

"I will be encouraging parents to consider buying cycle safety gear."

Yet another ignorant fuckwit abusing his position. It's like a religious cult!

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FluffyKittenofT... [1934 posts] 1 month ago
10 likes

Has he never been shocked at seeing the aftermath of a car hitting someone or something?

 

If he is, presumably he'll also be demanding anyone travelling to school in a car should adopt a different mode of transport?

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mikeymustard [18 posts] 1 month ago
7 likes

I don't wish to be rude to Mr Elliott as I'd like to think he is not doing this as a power kick, but as a genuine concern for his pupils safety. And, let's face it, a properly maintained bike is important.

However, perhaps he should consider campaigning to make the roads around the school safer for his little darlings to cycle on.

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HarrogateSpa [505 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

It's amazing the contortions of logic people get involved with where helmets are concerned. I think Ewan Morris has been seduced by the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. I'm pleased he's back on his feet (and bike I hope) though.

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DaveE128 [970 posts] 1 month ago
11 likes

In other news, an inner city school head puts kids in detention for not wearing body armour after a stabbing puts a pupil in intensive care.

Muppet.

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Bluebug [271 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes
brooksby wrote:

I was chatting to my sister in law yesterday. She's a teacher in an academy, a state secondary school; head of department and has been a teacher for twenty odd years. I was telling her about the other recent story about a head wanting kids to wear cycle helmets and have number plates. She said it's none of their business: staff are on site from an hour or so before and after the end of the school day, in case kids come in early or leave late, but that's it. She said it is not the schools responsibility what the kids do outside of school hours and off the school site (unless on school-arranged buses etc). The school could mandate helmets on school property, but that's the end of it.

Lots of Academies seem to want to do stupid things there as if they were controlled by the local authority they wouldn't be allowed to even suggest it.

With this independent school parents  will vote with their feet, and I am aware in certain areas too many parents have been so many such schools have closed down.

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martib [85 posts] 1 month ago
6 likes

Perhaps the headmaster would like to take part in an experiment, he can wear hi-viz and a cycle helmet and I can drive an HGV over his head to show how affective they are 

Maybe the head ought to aquaint himself with the law, instead of being a cockwomble making up his own laws. His remit ends at the school gates in which case it is then the reponsibility of the parents.

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Grahamd [825 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
cyclisto wrote:

If they require 17000 a year, it is sensible that someone has to shoot about their customer's safety. But for so much money they could hire somebody to drive a car behind each customer, do I have to do all the thinking?

Would prepare them in case they decide to be cycling politician as well.

 

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JeffB [9 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Not sure why so many negative comments. The headmaster is adopting the 'should' statements in the highway code. He is not going beyond that, and they are in line with the way Bikeability is taught. The kids cycling to Perse are way better than the other idiots in Cambridge riding no hands with headphones on that do not stop at red lights. True, his authority stops at the school gate, but anyone wanting to rack their bike at school has to follow his rules.

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hawkinspeter [1209 posts] 1 month ago
8 likes
JeffB wrote:

Not sure why so many negative comments. The headmaster is adopting the 'should' statements in the highway code. He is not going beyond that, and they are in line with the way Bikeability is taught. The kids cycling to Perse are way better than the other idiots in Cambridge riding no hands with headphones on that do not stop at red lights. True, his authority stops at the school gate, but anyone wanting to rack their bike at school has to follow his rules.

He's changing the 'should' and implementing it as a 'must' be punishing transgressions.

Why should anyone wanting to use the bike racks have to keep to his arbitrary rules about what they do outside the school?

The fact is that this policy WILL reduce the number of kids cycling if only because it is painting cycling as a dangerous activity. Unfortunately, those kids who get driven to school rather than cycling there will most likely have reduced activity levels which is a modern epidemic that should be fought against and not welcomed with unthinking rules.

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BehindTheBikesheds [1137 posts] 1 month ago
16 likes
JeffB wrote:

Not sure why so many negative comments. The headmaster is adopting the 'should' statements in the highway code. He is not going beyond that, and they are in line with the way Bikeability is taught. The kids cycling to Perse are way better than the other idiots in Cambridge riding no hands with headphones on that do not stop at red lights. True, his authority stops at the school gate, but anyone wanting to rack their bike at school has to follow his rules.

Aye well some of us are hoping to get the victim blaming shit in the HC removed or just ensure that the balance is addressed and motorists advised to wear same and hi-vis for their motors.

over 300,000 head injuries admitted into hospital from 1.4 million reported head injuries, and kids on bikes are a tiny, tiny fraction of this, the majority of these incidents are the fault of some cunt in a shit ton of metal and plastic, in fact more kids die of head injuries in motorvehicles, twice as many as the total number of child cycling deaths of all injuries in the UK If he bothered to do some research he would force all kids being dropped off to wear helmets too!

 Yeah, ignoring facts and putting the onus of safety really works, not, never has. Again, if children are getting stabbed, shot and having head injuries in other aspects outside the school, or indeed in the school grounds you can bet your bottom dollar no-one is going to suggest the wear stab/bullet proof vests or a crash helmet as a safety device.

Kids cycling anywhere doing pretty much what they like don't make a dent in the casualty stats of others, in a civil society we let children play, when we force helmets on them they do even more stupid stuff and get hurt more.

People who keep on ignoring the facts are dangerous morons, this moron who is supposed to be looking after the wealthfare of children (ON HIS PREMISES ONLY) cannot risk assess properly, hasn't the capacity to understand victim blaming, hasn't the capacity to grasp that helmets are not a solution to the problem he obviously seems to think it is and ignores head injuries in other facets of life including pupils in his own school. He hasn't even bothered to look at the facts surrounding helmets and if he's just gone off some mickey mouse 'advice' in the HC as his evidence to force this nonsense he shouldn't be in charge of a pile of steaming shit never mind a school.

it's not just lazy, it's contemptable dangerous BS.

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alansmurphy [1481 posts] 1 month ago
7 likes

Anyone that is driven to school in a car whereby all seats are not occupied or those inside aren't wearing a beret will be given a detention...

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Simon E [3180 posts] 1 month ago
15 likes
JeffB wrote:

Not sure why so many negative comments.

He's exceeding his powers, just as if an employer told you or me that you weren't allowed to commute to work by x mode of transport or were not allowed eat a particular food after work on Fridays.

Another one from last week: http://road.cc/content/news/232962-academy-school-makes-cycle-helmets-co...

Kids riding with headphones or dicking about are not really the problem. And before you say "they can't hear the traffic" I'll say:

1. even if they can hear the 4x4 / van / truck about to make the close pass what are they supposed to do about it?

2. how do deaf people manage?

3. cars have great sound insulation (and powerful audio systems) but I bet you aren't tut-tutting at them for driving around with the stereo on, parking on the pavement, dropping off their kids on the zig-zags, speeding, using mobiles...

Singling out RLJing or headphone-wearing cyclists is just scapegoating, deflecting attention from what is by far the greatest threat on the roads. And so is this headteacher. By all means make explain what good and bad behaviour is, how it impacts on the school and the people around it, perhaps even pay for Bikeability to be run on the school grounds, but FFS don't ignore the elephant in the room.

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Wheelsgoinground [2 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes
drosco wrote:

Unfortunately, this is pretty much all this website has become. Endless footage of 'near misses' and articles about helmets. Chuck in the odd overpriced jacket and there you go. Everything joyless about cycling.

True, dat. And the worst of it is, I don't choose to read this drip-drip of fear and misery, it comes free of charge or choice thanks to my Google news feed. It's like having the Daily Mail read to me over breakfast. Make it stop!

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FluffyKittenofT... [1934 posts] 1 month ago
5 likes
JeffB wrote:

Not sure why so many negative comments. The headmaster is adopting the 'should' statements in the highway code. He is not going beyond that, and they are in line with the way Bikeability is taught. The kids cycling to Perse are way better than the other idiots in Cambridge riding no hands with headphones on that do not stop at red lights. True, his authority stops at the school gate, but anyone wanting to rack their bike at school has to follow his rules.

 

The highway code is a significantly-flawed document, it's not the word of God.  In any case it has a great many 'should' statements directed at motorists that are routinely ignored, yet I don't see this headmaster imposing any sanctions on parents who have their children in their car when they ignore those 'shoulds'.

 

And has he banned any parent from driving their child in a car that doesn't, in reality not theory, meet NOx or particulates emissions standards?  In fact, to be consistently concerned with childrens' wellbeing, he should be banning parents from using any non-electric motorised vehicles.

 

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think, incidentally, that his authority does stop at the school gate.  Legally I suspect he can impose all sorts of restrictions on out-of-school activities and expel pupils for breaking them.  But at least it's a private school, so parents have some element of choice as whether they want to be subject to his power-crazed whims.  Not so with state-funded academies, which have the same problem of mini-Putins running amok but taxpayers have no choice about funding them.

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horizontal dropout [299 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

Useful article here:

https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/campaigns-guide/how-to-encourage-cycli...

"2. The law - what schools can and cannot do about cycling to school

Cycling ‘bans’

Schools do not have any legal right to ban cycling to and from their premises.

However, schools can discourage cycling..."

 

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ChairRDRF [367 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
drosco wrote:

Unfortunately, this is pretty much all this website has become. Endless footage of 'near misses' and articles about helmets. Chuck in the odd overpriced jacket and there you go. Everything joyless about cycling.

I see your point - but that's the same about all "news" - you have to mention the bad stuff.

On the plus side, I am hugely encouraged by the sensible comments of so many below who can see through the victim-blaming and non-evidence based red herring that is pushed by those who should know better.

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ChairRDRF [367 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes
mikeymustard wrote:

I don't wish to be rude to Mr Elliott as I'd like to think he is not doing this as a power kick, but as a genuine concern for his pupils safety. And, let's face it, a properly maintained bike is important.

However, perhaps he should consider campaigning to make the roads around the school safer for his little darlings to cycle on.

 

Yes of course. And if he is worried about improper cycling behaviour he could support high quality on-road cycle training which - if done properly - can breed  confidence. And awareness of cyclists' rights as well as responsibilities. If done propelry, which seems unlikely with him.

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ChairRDRF [367 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
Simon E wrote:
JeffB wrote:

Not sure why so many negative comments.

He's exceeding his powers, just as if an employer told you or me that you weren't allowed to commute to work by x mode of transport or were not allowed eat a particular food after work on Fridays.

Another one from last week: http://road.cc/content/news/232962-academy-school-makes-cycle-helmets-co...

Kids riding with headphones or dicking about are not really the problem. And before you say "they can't hear the traffic" I'll say:

1. even if they can hear the 4x4 / van / truck about to make the close pass what are they supposed to do about it?

2. how do deaf people manage?

3. cars have great sound insulation (and powerful audio systems) but I bet you aren't tut-tutting at them for driving around with the stereo on, parking on the pavement, dropping off their kids on the zig-zags, speeding, using mobiles...

Singling out RLJing or headphone-wearing cyclists is just scapegoating, deflecting attention from what is by far the greatest threat on the roads. And so is this headteacher. By all means make explain what good and bad behaviour is, how it impacts on the school and the people around it, perhaps even pay for Bikeability to be run on the school grounds, but FFS don't ignore the elephant in the room.

Excellent points. Could also point out that there is no research which actually shows that headphones  contribute to crashes (I don't use them BTW)

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escalinci [14 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

And how many of his pupils are overweight or lacking daily excercise?

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beezus fufoon [973 posts] 1 month ago
6 likes

so the child was wearing a cycle helmet and ends up in intensive care

and the head wants all the children who cycle to wear helmets

ergo - the head wants all the children who cycle to end up in intensive care

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the little onion [177 posts] 1 month ago
9 likes

Our primary school has a problem with parents dropping off their kids, normally parking on the pavement and often narrowly missing hitting kids walking along. The school's response has been to politely request that parents don't park on the pavement. They refuse to lobby the council to ask for more double yellow lines or other measures outside the school. They will be very prescriptive about what kind of bag the kids use to transport their gym kit, lest it has loose straps that present a strangulation hazard. 

 

In other words, they turn a blind eye to the heirarchy of risk, if a motor vehicle is involved. Just like the rest of society.

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