Ipswich mum criticises St Helen’s Primary School for discouraging children to cycle

Anna Matthews with her daughter Agnes and Ben Gummer at the launch of their family cycle project las

Anna Matthews with her daughter Agnes and Ben Gummer at the launch of their family cycle project last year. Copyright Anglia Picture Agency - Credit: Ashley Pickering/Anglia Picture

An Ipswich mum-of-four has criticised her children’s primary school for “not encouraging” its pupils to cycle to school.

Anna Matthews, 40, cycles with her two children, Alex, 10, and Seren, nine, from Norwich Road to St Helen’s Primary School five days a week.

However, Mrs Matthews, who also has daughters Lizzy and Agnes, said she had to leave the children’s bikes at Elmy Cycles, St Helen’s Street, because the school did not provide a cycle rack for the pupils, despite having one for its staff, which she said was always full.

She said her husband, Cliff, had even been “told off” when he brought his bike on school grounds, because it was “a dangerous piece of equipment”.

Headteacher Claire Flintoff said the school had met with officials from Suffolk County Council’s highways department and Suffolk police to talk about safety around the school.

She said: “We asked to meet with them because we want to encourage children to cycle.

“The view from the highways and local police is that the roads are too dangerous and so they won’t agree to promote cycling to the school and they weren’t able to put in cycle paths.”

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Mrs Flintoff said if the school was seen to actively encourage cycling to school, that would go against guidance they had received.

“Until we know it’s safe then we can’t encourage them to cycle, because the safety of our children is paramount,” she added.

Mrs Flintoff said it was an issue that was regularly reviewed and that cycling was not “banned”, but discouraged.

She said if parents wanted to use the staff’s cycle rack for their children, then they just needed to speak to her first.

The school came under-fire for the same issue in 2009 when it removed its cycle racks for pupils.

At the time, deputy headteacher Martin Jarvis said the action was taken because the school’s busy town-centre location on Woodbridge Road was not a safe environment for young cyclists.