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Children encouraged to cycle to school with free bikes

A school in Stoke is offering pupils who enrol free bikes as part of a £10,000 investment to get youngsters to lead healthier lifestyles. Berry Hill High School is looking to encourage children to cycle to school, rather than being dropped off by car.

More than 100 young people are expected to benefit from the scheme which will initially target 11-year-olds starting in year seven in next September.

Berry Hill's work as a specialist sports college and encourages people to stay fit and active and the £10,000 has come from different sources, including Government funding.

The school is yet to negotiate a price for the bikes but expects 100 new pupils will be given a bike and more will benefit from the rewards scheme. The school will buy the bikes and pass them onto the pupils.

Year seven pupils who want to claim a free bike next year will have to pass a cycling proficiency test and will also have to wear a helmet when they ride - and get their parents to take responsibility for them using the bike.

Pupils will also be able to snap up free cycles by saving up points through the school's recently introduced computer-based reward system, Vivo Miles. They can get points by doing well in class, exceeding predicted grades, behaving well, attending every day and taking part in after-school activities. The reward system has proved hugely successful since it was introduced in the spring.

Earlier this month cycle campaigners warned that more and more children were not cycling to school and faced active official discouragement to do so.

The CTC said that they are prevented from cycling into school because their parents would rather drive them, their school actively discourages it, they do not have facilities available to store their bike or, quite simply, they don’t know how. In response to these concerns the CTC produced a Right to Ride to School leaflet,

A spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) said: “We are committed to working with local authorities, schools, parents and children to promote the benefits of sustainable travel, and also to ensure that the infrastructure, education and training is in place to support them in their travel choices.