3 April 2018

During March, our brilliant Year 7 pupils tackled hill climbs and headwinds in a cycling challenge to cover 1,400 miles between them and ‘Ride to Rome’ in just five days. Every single child in Year 7 took part, including several who couldn’t ride a bike before the challenge. Ten young riders have even been named as ‘Cycling Heroes’ for their extra special efforts.

The Ride to Rome is part of ongoing work school to encourage our pupils and their families to cycle more to improve their health, as well as reduce local congestion. As well as covering the miles, the children also tried to raise enough money through sponsorship to fund a new cycling hub at school that will include secure storage for bikes.

Our pupils completed the epic challenge and you can read all about it below! We still need to raise more funds, however, for our new facilities. If you are a local business or individual who would like to help with our bike shed and support cycling in school, please email stephen.forster@ntlp.org.uk and we'd be delighted to tell you about our plans.

More about the Ride to Rome

The ‘Ride to Rome’ involved groups of 10 pupils head out each morning and afternoon to cover miles around North Tyneside and Newcastle using the Waggonways, Sustrans C2C routes and local roads, taking in sights including Tynemouth, Whitley Bay, the North Bank of the Tyne and Newcastle Quayside. They tracked their progress on a giant map in school to keep them inspired and motivated.

Year 7 pupil Jason Coates couldn’t ride a bike at all at the beginning of this year. During the challenge, he cycled over 10 miles from Norham to Newcastle Quayside in less than an hour, then back again. 

Jason said: “This challenge has changed my life. I now absolutely love my bike and I cycle to school every day. Cycling is brilliant, it makes you feel great to be out in the fresh air, getting exercise and seeing new places and I’m so pleased I got to take part in this.”

The Year 7 pupils have been supported in their challenge by specially trained school staff, and joined by Dave Buchan from local Community Interest Company ‘Bike4Health’. Bike4Health also provided extra bikes and equipment for the rides. 

The school has been working with Bike4Health this year to embed a cycling culture right across Norham, where cycling to school becomes the norm and where pupils actively encourage their families to leave the car at home and join them on rides during weekends and holidays. 

Dave Buchan from Bike4Health said: “Norham High School has been working really hard to make cycling a part of everyday life for pupils and their families and we’re really proud to be part of that. Their commitment to creating a cycling culture is impressive and the whole school has really got behind it. 

“At Bike4Health, we believe in the benefits of exercise and good health for everyone and we also work hard to promote sustainable travel. Norham shares those values and it’s been a pleasure to work with staff and pupils to help them achieve their goals this year. The children who’ve taken part in ‘Ride to Rome’ have been amazing and I hope this challenge inspires them all to keep on cycling.”

Pupils have also taken part in Bikeability training and ‘GearedUp’ cycling skills courses this year.

Executive Headteacher, David Baldwin has been impressed and inspired by what his pupils’ have achieved in just a week. 

He said: "Embedding a cycling culture here at Norham is so important to us. If we can get our pupils to love cycling, to ride to school, to encourage their families to ride, then they’re going to reap huge rewards. They’re going to be fitter and healthier, they’re going to be more alert and ready to learn when they get to school and we’re going to see fewer cars around. We’re also going to see fitter, healthier and happier families across North Shields!

“Our work to encourage cycling is all about opening our pupils’ minds to all of the opportunities and possibilities that are out there when you get on your bike. For example, we’ve been showing them how easy it is to get to places of work around the borough on a bike like the Cobalt Business Park, as well as how amazing it is to cycle along our beautiful coastline.

"If we can get every pupil cycling or walking all or part of the way to Norham every day, it would be amazing, and that’s what we’re working towards.”

To read more about the changes at Norham High School, visit www.norhamhigh.com

To find out more about Bike4Health visit www.bike4health.org