Increased confidence and more energetic students: the benefits of hosting an AusBike program in schools

Nov 16, 2023

“Go for it. There are so many benefits – student confidence and a love of being active.”

That is the message from Ellinbank Primary School principal Catherine Clerks to other schools considering getting involved in the AusBike program, after they successfully ran a pilot of the new learn to ride program earlier this year.

With a school enrolment of just 25 students from years P-6, Ellinbank Primary School in Victoria’s West Gippsland region is among the smallest schools in the state.

Surrounded by farmland and roads too dangerous to ride on, all students are driven to school, which has limited their participation and interest in bike riding.

However, that all changed after the school was donated 12 bikes through Revolve Recycling, with AusCycling Head of Methodology, Participation Brenton Jones also running bike education programs at the school over the last two years, culminating in an AusBike pilot in September.

While admitting the first bike education session was “a challenge for many children who had not ridden a bike,” Clerks said that bike education had gone on to have a lasting impact on the students, 90% of whom are diagnosed with some form of physical, cognitive, or social disability.

“The students have learnt new skills, or even just the basic skills of riding a bike with pedals, using the brakes, turning corners and road safety,” she said.

“[We’re] seeing the students who struggle to learn in the classroom absolutely flourish on the bike and constantly ask to use them. One day we had all the students riding their bikes at school and the older ones even created their own adventure track, complete with a small hill they made from a mulch pile.

“Students loved whizzing down a hill, over the mound and then into the bush at the bottom of the playground. Even the timidest students gave this a go and created many fun memories of achievement and success we had not even imagined.”

Ellinbank Primary School

Principal Clerks said bike riding was now a significant part of the regular PE program, which had led to unexpected outcomes that extended beyond the classroom.

“The teachers observed the lessons and have been able to use some of these activities when we get the bikes out of the shed to use at playtime or during PE. Parents are thrilled that their children are developing confidence on the bikes,” Clerks said.

“Three families have commented that they can now take the bikes on holiday with them, and their children love to ride around the camp. Five students received new bikes for Christmas last year as their parents noticed an increase in enthusiasm and engagement in riding a bike.

“The last two years with Brenton have been significant in inspiring the students to love bike riding. We have had whole days riding bikes through the local town on the bike tracks. This is great to be able to have the whole school involved in such an activity.”

For more information about AusBike or to register your interest, just fill in this form or visit the AusBike website.

Images: Catherine Clerks