AQW 25585/11-15

Mr Peter Weir
Democratic Unionist Party
North Down

Tabled Date: 11/09/2013
Answered On Date: 24/09/2013
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of the Environment what steps he has taken to increase the opportunities for children to learn cycling safety at school.

My Department has a statutory duty to promote road safety and, within the context of the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy, does this through a wide range of road safety education activities, including road safety education programmes within schools.
The DOE Road Safety Education Officer Service has a programme of work which is designed to strengthen road safety education within the school environment, including cycling safely. Best practice guidelines advise that teaching professionals are best placed to embed the road safety message. Therefore it is within that context that DOE provides road safety teaching resources to enable teachers to teach road safety as part of the curriculum. Advice and guidance is also provided where required by the teaching professionals. In addition DOE also supports several road safety schemes, such as, the Practical Child Pedestrian Safety Training, Theatre in Education, and the Cycling Proficiency Scheme.
The Cycling Proficiency Scheme targets child cycling safety. The scheme focuses on the road safety elements of cycling, providing formal training in how to ride a bicycle safely, learn some of the rules of the road and how to negotiate junctions. In February each year the Road Safety Education Officers write to every primary and special school in Northern Ireland to promote the scheme. The teaching of road safety within the school environment is optional and down to the individual school, falling into ‘Life Long Learning’ agenda. Approximately 62% (539) Primary Schools with an average of 8,365 children train children through the Cycling Proficiency Scheme each year. It is delivered mostly to children in Primary 7, although some schools do offer the scheme to Primary 6 and occasionally Primary 5 children.
My Department has no powers to insist that a school takes up the option to deliver the Cycling Proficiency Scheme; this decision lies solely with individual schools.