How to encourage cycling at schools with anti-cycling policies
4) How to convince your child’s school to allow cycling
- Is there a problem? Does your child’s school discourage cycling through the prospectus and/or official announcements? Do they ban it outright? Do they ban cycles from school grounds? If your child is discouraged or not allowed to cycle to school, try to find out exactly what the problem is and – if possible – the reasons. You might find that writing to them is the only way of finding out for sure.
- Discuss the situation with your child. What does your child want to do? Does he or she have any ideas about how to change things? Is your child concerned about being singled out? Find out what they want, how they feel about what you're doing, and involve them in any actions you take.
- Get other families involved. Identify other parents at your child’s school who want their children to be able to cycle. Ask them to help you approach the school. The more families requesting a change in school policy, the more difficult it becomes for the school to dismiss your request.
- Be prepared to talk to parents who don’t support cycling to school. Listen, be respectful and try to address their concerns. But be ready to concede that there are some people who just aren’t interested in changing their minds. Don’t waste your energy on skirmishes that won’t help your cause.
- Talk to the head teacher. You can begin the dialogue either in a face-to-face meeting or on the phone. It is possible that the school’s policy on cycling is out-dated or has not been well considered. Politely ask the head teacher why the school has the policy it does. Try to find out who made the decision, when, and if there was a specific incident or reason that prompted it.
Try to understand the head teacher’s position, and respond gently and sensitively to his or her concerns. Even if you think they are being silly or dismissive, try your best to maintain a dialogue – not a confrontation. Remember that this policy may not be the head teacher’s decision - they may even be an ally, underneath it all!