Case study: Sir Thomas Abney Primary School

STA bikes started in 2000 at Sir Thomas Abney Primary School with a small grant from the LCC.

They started with developing a regular programme of cycle training in the school, and sought to make cycling a normal part of school life. Cycling is now a taken for
granted activity, demanded by parents and children alike.

They have formed a not for profi t company, aiming to ‘improve the lives of children and their families, especially the disadvantaged, through cycling and related activities’. They developed the Rainbow Programme of cycling, whereby cycle training is offered to all members of the school community, children, parents and staff, at all levels, all year round.

They train approximately 80 children a term, and an average of a dozen parents or staff. They run Adult Cycle Clubs, from which they recruit interested local people to be cycle trainers, and now employ a team of some 16 local people, mostly on a freelance basis. About half are women, a third from ethnic minorities, and speakers of other languages.

They work in local primary schools aiming to help them set up independent sustainable cycling projects, replicating what they have achieved at Sir Thomas

They are now the lead organisation in a partnership that is contracted to provide cycle training on behalf of Hackney Council, and that trains over a thousand children and adults (mostly in primary schools) a year.

Project outcomes


  • Project offered a series of comprehensive training programmes targeted at pupils, parents/carers, older post-primary school siblings and teachers to teach bike control and road riding skills. 20 pupils from years 1,2 and 3 and 20 pupils from years 4 and 5 received cycle training. In addition, 2 parents and several teachers also received training. 
  • Cycling has been totally embraced by the school. The project has been promoted in a comprehensive way that is not merely seen as an after school club - something to keep children out of trouble! Training sessions have taken place during school time and parents and teachers have been encouraged to take part. This is helping normalise cycling within the school. 

  • When a pupil was asked what she learned in her cycle training she responded “LOADS!!!!” Sally Haywill, one of the parents who organised the project said, “I was talking to one boy who was just so enthusiastic about the cycle training. When told he would progress to on road training he started jumping up and down with excitement.” Sally continued, “Cycling is beginning to be seen as a normal part of school life. It is seeping in to other parts of school activities, we will have cycling as part of the sports day. It’s being really integrated into everything.” 

  • The school is now acting as a shining example of how cycling can be promoted and 6 other schools are following the Sir Thomas Abney example. The Headteacher stated, “If I was to give one bit of advice to others considering such a project it would be to persevere! There will be hiccups, but it all comes right in the end and now cycling is seen as normal within the school.”