Cycling Proficiency 'Test' - WHY????

(52 Posts)
captainmummy Thu 26-Jun-08 09:51:59

DS2's junior school sent a letter out recently with a form to join a 'cycling proficiency course' - 1.5 hours a day for a week, followed by an 'assessment'. DS2 is not a confident cyclist (or confident at all, really) and I really thought it would be good for him, that he would be a better cyclist if he knew some of the rules of the road. So I paid £15 for the course.

I didn't realise that the 'assessment' actually consisted of a 'test', which he could 'pass' or 'fail'. Of course he failed, didn't he. He apparently wasn't listening and got to a junction in the left hand lane when he'd been told to turn right. (so an assessment of his 'listening' rather than cycling?) and did a few other minor 'wrong' things. The group were called up individually to be told 'pass' or 'fail' and the reasons why - in front of the rest of the group. He was one of 3 (out of about 14) to fail, and when they were dismissed he went off to get his stuff and some of the girls came to tell me that he was crying and how sorry they felt for him - how humiliating is that for him? Anyway, he know feels that he can't ride his bike, as he has failed the test!.

My point is - what's the point of the test at all? I'm still glad he did the course, but if he hadn't done it he would still be 'allowed' out on his bike!

I'm sorry your son was upset but as someone who cycles everyday then I would say that listening is a vital part of cycling - it's how you get the first indication of what's going on behind you or round the corner and so I think an indication that he wasn't listening and therefore not concentrating on the road is an important reason for him not to pass. Not minor at imo.

GentleOtter Thu 26-Jun-08 09:59:04

I sympathise with you here. Dd has just had similar and it would apear that there is no extra help for SN children -they all failed as they could not do the written part sad.

Yes, it knocks the confidence from them, terribly so.
Is there somewhere locally that you can take him to practice cycling (off road)? Our cycling proficiency tests are run by the police so maybe they can help your son with some useful advice.

SheherazadetheGoat Thu 26-Jun-08 10:00:13

i think the point of the test is to show you that he needs more coaching before he is safe on his bike. sounds liket he pass fail aspect could have been handled better.

misdee Thu 26-Jun-08 10:05:33

ok the pass/fail aspect could;ve been handled better.

but the cycling proficiency test is generally done in year 5 or 6, beofre children start secondty school as this is when they tend to start cycling by themselves to secondry school. its a test to make sure they are safe to ride on the road.

captainmummy Thu 26-Jun-08 10:06:49

Sorry - I don't see the point of the Test AT ALL! My ds1 didn't do the course or the test, and he's allowed out on his bike! Northernlurker - did you do a test? Sheherazade? There must be thousands of people out there on bikes every day - I bet you only 1% has taken a test. So what is the point? I tackled the course-leaders about it, and they mumbled something about 'oh if we passed him (when we should have failed him ) and he went out on his bike and had a accident it would be our fault' (???WTF??) They did say he could retake the test in the following weeks' course, but honestly how likely is that? So he could fail again? Or would he definitley pass second time? So what's the point of failing him first time?
Incidentally, the school closed for half day on the friday of the course, so not only did I pay to have his confidence knocked (for NO good reason) but he also missed out on a half-day holiday!

misdee Thu 26-Jun-08 10:08:43

does he ride on the road at all?

SheherazadetheGoat Thu 26-Jun-08 10:13:15

i did do the test and i did find it stood me in good stead.

i am really sorry your ds is so upset.

captainmummy Thu 26-Jun-08 10:15:33

We do take them out on the bikes occassionally, but no, not all that often.

I really thought it would help him with 'reading the road' better. We walk to school every day and he is very good, concentrates when crossing the road etc. I agree it is a good idea in principle, to make sure they are safe cycling on the road, but in that case, everyone should do it, in the curriculum. Like swimming. So maybe they 'shuold' have a test before they are allowed out, like a driving test. But at the mo, anyone can do it, regardless of ability, and that's my point. Why the test, if it makes no difference?

Incidentally, I did the course when I was 11, but I dont rememeber a test.

misdee Thu 26-Jun-08 10:17:21

i didnt do the course as the school cancelled it that year. am not confident with riding on the road. i might see about taking it myself when dd1 does it blush

Lazylou Thu 26-Jun-08 10:22:59

I did the test and out of about 12 of us, I was the only one to fail. They did the same thing, calling us up in front of the group one by one and announcing to everyone how we had done. I was gutted, especially as everyone else was given special little badges to say they had passed and then rode their bikes home that night...

orangina Thu 26-Jun-08 10:23:23

I did the test a zillion years ago at school and they failed me.

For bad pedalling style.

blush

captainmummy Thu 26-Jun-08 10:24:00

Thanks sheherazade.
I think the course leaders could definitely have delivered the results in a better way, and I am still glad he did the course. I think it might have been a good idea if they could have spoken to the teachers about the children, too, to see if there would be any problems. I think it's the first year the school have done the course, so there may be changes. I have written to the cycling co-ordinator, at teh council with my concerns. The last thing I would have done is spent money to have my ds2 confidence knocked, but they don't seem to see that it would be a problem.

orangina Thu 26-Jun-08 10:24:05

Oooh Lazylou, what were you failed for (thrilled to find out I am not the only person who failed their proficiency test!)

captainmummy Thu 26-Jun-08 10:25:05

Lazylou - why the hell didn't you ride your bike home that night? Didn;t you ride it to school that morning?

Captainmummy - I did do the test and I did pass.

snorkle Thu 26-Jun-08 11:24:27

I think you are focussing too much on the test. He WILL have learned a lot about road safety on a bike from doing the course (assuming he was listening at least some of the time) which is presumably what you wanted. In failing the test, while being a hard lesson, he will also have learned that you do have to concentrate on the road which is an important lesson.

The whole point of doing cycling proficiency is to lessen the chance of your child becoming one of the accident statistics. It's not compulsory, but I suspect that children who have done it are less likely to have accidents.

I agree with snorkle, your ds will have leant road sense from the course.
But if he failed due to not listening, then I am afraid to say that is down to him.
Dh takes the dc out on the road. If he tells ds to turn left, and instead ds turns right into the path of a car the results could be disastrous!

Unfortunately all children will fail as something at some point. That is part of growing up.

Fwiw I think cycling proficiency is a great thing, especially when you consider a lot of the children taking part will be cycling to secondary school after the summer.

I agree the 'delivering' of the pass/fail could have been handled better, but I do think that in order to pass children need to demonstrate they are safe on the road and listening is a key part of that! If they had passed your ds they could have given him a false sense of confidence/security with potentially fatal consequences.

Dh takes the children out onto the road on their bikes, not just onto the road on foot of course.

I think informing him about the pass/fail could have been handled much better, but on the whole these proficiency tests are better than nothing for a whole lot of kids.

DS is only 5 but he's been cycling for over a year now, and cycling on safe quiet roads with me, but I took him out loads first on the common to 'practice', where he had to listen to my instructions as do things like indicate, stop at junctions, look and listen for traffic etc.. Not all children get this opportunity and there are lots of kids who wouldn't be tought this by parents, especially if their parents don't cycle themselves, so it is probably better than nothing.

I think the tests could be improved personally, and offered from a much younger age, and certainly there are plenty of adults who could do with some education in this area (my pet gripe being adults who cycle on the pavement, gggrrrrr don't they know it's illegal ffs?)

bruxeur Thu 26-Jun-08 11:42:14

Agree with RB. I failed my cycling proficiency for similar reason - towards left side of lane turning right. I didn't like being to the right of the lane because it felt less safe, which of course was wrong. It was explained why and I was a better/safer cyclist as a result.

Also - what were you expecting as an "assessment" if not a "test"?

Interesting semantics.

I also agree that failing is part of life, and it's good for your DS to have some experience of it.

Listening is vital in cycling, if DS didn't listen to me on the road he could very probably end up dead.

scrappydappydoo Thu 26-Jun-08 11:44:54

I never did cycling profiency or test so can't comment but just on finding somewhere to cycle safely - I learnt to ride my bike in an empty car park of a superstore early on a sunday morning (or later after store closed) - Is there somewhere like that near you??

captainmummy Thu 26-Jun-08 12:03:45

I agree with those who say that ds will have learnt a lot from the course - it's the reason I sent him on it in the first place, but if I thought that he could 'fail' (in something so optional) I would have thought twice. In my opinion, it would have been 100% better to have done the course, WITHOUT an 'assessment' or 'test' of any kind. But I suppose the County Council need its 'results' to justify itself. Whether it needs to 'broadcast' those results so publically is open to debate.

My point is that ds2 is not a worse cyclist now than he was before the course. He is probably a much better one, for having done the course. Except that he now doesn;t want to go out on his bike because he has 'failed'. And yes, while failing is part of life, it was the completely unnecessary 'fail' that is so hard on him.

It's interesting that OMDBs ds goes out at the age of 5, but when he gets to 11 will he be put in for the test? If so, why? If he fails for not listening, will he be a 'worse' cyclist than now? People must get to the end of a road in the wrong lane all the time - surely it's how you rectify the mistake that is the mark of a competant cyclist/road user?

I did the test in junior school 25 years ago (blimey can that be right????!!!!!) My first instance of multiple choice. the questions then were so easy one was.
How should you sit on a bike seat?
a)bolt upright
b) slightly leaning forward with arms a bit bent
c) leaning back

Although I'd not really learnt the theory due to not going to the classes it wasn't exactly a challenge!
We also had to cycle round cones and come to a swift stop without going over the handle bars.

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