Head Teacher's Blog
Herts Balance and Ride with Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery School
This summer we joined forces with Phil from Herts Balance and Ride to launch a new initiative funded by our Sports Premium budget (with no cost to parents) to teach our Year 1 and 2 children the life skill of balancing and riding a bike.
Why learn to ride a bike?
- Our Physical Education curriculum must ‘provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness’ National Curriculum 2013
- Develop strength, coordination, balance and stamina
- Increase fitness levels and learn habits to encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Contribute to a sustainable environment
- Take on a new challenge
- Have fun!
After 6 days of working with Phil over the course of 4 weeks, working with a total of 63 children in KS1, here are the results:
By the end of their final session 84% of children were riding, 14% had transitioned to gliding on a pedal bike and 1 child was balancing, very close to transitioning to a pedal bike.
Here’s what the parents thought –
‘Absolutely fantastic…. she loved every minute and I cannot believe she could independently ride a bike in under an hour. She has been on lots of bike rides since learning her new skill.’
‘My 6 year old daughter is thrilled to be actually riding a bike properly now and is always asking to go out for family bike rides.’
‘I cannot commend this experience enough…she enjoyed it so much and made extremely fast progress and is now confident bike riding. We very much hope you will continue this initiative for when our son joins the school in Sept 2019. Congratulations to Phil and his team and well done BH school in being so innovative…’
‘He had shown no interest in learning to ride a bike before (happy to just sit in my child’s bike seat) and was a bit nervous. He was so proud that he has learnt to ride and I am amazed he has done this in such a short amount of time. He is now asking for a bike, which I am keen to get him so that we can practice together. I’m so grateful he has had this opportunity. Phil had a lovely gentle manner with the children which I think is so important’
‘It was really helpful for her to have the practise on a balance bike and she’s already asked us to take her stabilisers off so she can practise gliding on her bike this weekend. A great school initiative, thanks very much indeed.’
‘A massive thank you to the school and Phil for organising the bike lessons…He’s definitely shown more interest in riding in the garden and his confidence has grown since the lessons. Thanks again to you and all the staff who coordinated the bike training and a super thank you to Phil who has taught the kids so incredibly well. I know many parents who were equally amazed at how well their kids can now ride a bike.’
‘My daughter was unable to ride without stabilisers before the course. She could use a balance bike, but was nowhere near riding for herself. She is quite small and last summer she just wasn’t physically strong enough to get going despite our efforts. We knew that it was time to get her going this year, but could see it being difficult because she wasn’t confident on the bike and also has 2 bigger, stronger sisters who are physically streets ahead of her which sometimes can make her unconfident in her own ability. At the end of the 2 bike sessions, she was riding independently, although still a bit wobbly and not that confidently. However, she has taken every opportunity since the course to be outside on her bike and she’s now really cracked it and is enjoying cycling. It has been brilliant for her to be able to learn with her own peers and to get going so quickly. She can now join her sisters when they are out of their bikes without feeling like she’s missing out and we are looking forward to finally going out together as a family this summer. Many thanks for giving her this opportunity.’
‘Our son recently undertook the learning to ride program…he never showed any interest to learn previously despite previous attempts …he learnt on the course the balance bike then second day he could actually ride unsupported (we offered [him] an extra incentive that when he progressed we would get him a bike). We bought him a bike 2 days later…now he is on it every day…he even sits on the bike on the terrace waiting for us to take him out !! He is getting more confident with every session….and will look for a bike myself so that we can go out together.’
‘We were amazed that after just one lesson he could confidently ride a bike without stabilizers. He was so proud of himself after the first lesson and demonstrated his skills around our close and proudly told the neighbours and also random strangers that we met that week that he could ride his bike without stabilizers! After the second session with Phil he had increased in confidence even more and it was great to see him cycling fast and confidently around the playground.
Last Tuesday all of FS2 climbed aboard the big yellow coach as they headed off to Cassiobury Park in the sunshine.
What a fantastic day they had! Take a look at these smiling faces as the children played in the Splash Park, challenged themselves in the Playground and searched through the woods on a mini-beast hunt.
Another big thank you to all of the volunteers who make days like this possible – we couldn’t do it without you.
The window walling project has begun! Each KS1 class is ‘evicted’ for a day – Alban and Morpurgo have spent the last two days learning outdoors – whilst Nick and his team remove the old windows and external doors and replace them with brand new ones!
Take a look at Morpurgo’s makeover…
We are pushing off, gliding, pedaling, braking, turning and feeling very confident!
Day 1 of Herts Balance and Ride and we are feeling very proud! Look at what our Y1 children have achieved today.
Last week I met twelve very proud and excited children from Year 1 and Year 2. The new School Councillors met me in my office and received their new badge. They introduced themselves to the other members of the group and told everyone something they really like doing.
Alban Class – Ella and William
Morpurgo Class – Lilybelle and Casper
Ryder Class – Caitlin and Freddie
Mitchell Class – Ava and Oula
Churchill Class – Alex and Rosie
Spencer Class – Charlotte and William
The rest of our first meeting was spent choosing new signs for our playground. I was particularly impressed with the reasons they gave for the choices they made:
“We should have this one because it will help us learn” – Number bond flowers
“The little children will like this one” – Seasons
“We should have this one because it will keep us healthy” – Football scoring game
Look out for the new boards which should arrive in school before half term.
It’s the first morning back
And all through the school,
The Classrooms are ready
The teachers are cool!
We’ve all had a rest
It’s September again!
Welcome back Bernards Heath
Now let’s grow our brains!
My second year as Head Teacher has taught me so much, mostly that every day there is a new way the children at Bernards Heath can make me proud!
The ethos at school is one where expectations are high, it is the norm to hear staff and children talk about ‘doing their best’ and ‘feeling proud’ of their achievements. Effort is encouraged and we are always glad to hear about new learning at school, at home and in after school clubs; it is particularly impressive when children play their instruments and sing in assembly and this year we have been treated to ukulele, cello and guitar to name a few! The opportunities in clubs have met a wide variety of interests and have taught children new skills and built confidence and self esteem. A big thank you to the staff who run these clubs and give up their time.
One of our main focus points on the School Development Plan has been to raise the percentage of Year 1 children meeting the expectation in the statutory Phonics Screening. There has been a huge amount of work done by the entire staff and I would like to thank them for their unwavering support, energy and commitment to giving our children the best learning experiences. I am proud that our 81% target has been exceeded and 88% of our Year 1 cohort reached the expectation this year – our highest ever! In meeting this whole school objective we have not lost the ‘love of reading.’ The love of reading will continue over the summer; look at the ‘Learning Together’ page on our website for ideas about how you can continue to support reading and sign up to take part in the library reading challenge.
The curriculum at school is something many parents have commented on in report reply slips. There have been so many additional experiences including visits, visitors, performances, assemblies, curriculum weeks and complete classroom transformations that wouldn’t happen without the creativity and energy of our staff. They are an incredible bunch of people who put children and their wellbeing and learning first. They work incredibly hard and the reports they have written about your children and the way they talk about every child at pupil progress meetings demonstrates what a good understanding they have of every child as an individual.
We know that we are sharing our days with children who are still forming their view of the world and are learning how best to make an impact. Responsibility is key. We have had a year of uncertainty in the wider world and our children have picked up on this and been keen to take action. The ‘Help Refugees Committee’ have organised fundraisers and rallied support from across the school resulting in over £2000 being raised to help vulnerable children and families. It blows my mind that children who are six and seven years old have a level of emotional intelligence and social responsibility and can articulate that so clearly in the actions they take. The School Council and Play Leaders are other examples where children have given up their time and put their personal and social skills to excellent use. Our playground is a busy and happy place for children to play. They tell us they feel safe and that they love their school.
There is a huge amount that happens ‘behind the scenes’ I would like to thank the Governors for their support and challenge and Mrs Kilpatrick at the Junior School for the excellent communication we share. Miss Woolfson and Miss Kearns have a daily impact and are an inspirational pair with the highest expectations for themselves and others. Our admin team is exceptional! They answer in excess of a million questions each day and manage to keep calm and smile at all who encounter them!
One of the things I am most proud of is our communication with parents. We truly value our partnerships with parents and continue to be committed to working together to best support children. The outcome we see as a result of this is happy, confident and independent learners. Thank you for volunteering, giving us feedback both positive and constructive, taking on board suggestions, attending meetings about how to have an even bigger impact on learning at home and clapping loudly at every event we invite you to! We really couldn’t be as successful as we are without your support and your children benefit enormously from this.
As we look forward to September and welcoming new families to school we have already started thinking about our priorities; we are planning to further develop our learning environments to enhance independence and further promote early reading and writing. We are also planning to develop staff curriculum teams to look at how we can further challenge children outside the core areas of learning.
First though… a holiday! I wish you a safe, happy and adventurous 6 weeks and look forward to seeing you in September!