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On your bike! Pupils learn new skills as they restore old bikes at a Derby school


A Derby school has set up its own version of TV’s Repair Shop where pupils learn how to restore bikes to their former glory – which they then get to take home.

Pupils at Derby Cathedral School, in Great Northern Road, have been learning skills such as mending brakes and fixing the gears after joining The Cycle Recycle club, which was set up last year.

The club is run in conjunction with expert Barry Tomlinson, owner of The Bike Shop, in nearby Monk Street, but was launched by RE teacher Josh Turner, who came up with the idea after a pupil in his tutor group had his bike stolen and his family could not afford to replace it.

Pupils at Derby Cathedral School have joined a Cycle Recycle club to restore old bikes

Mr Turner said: “I knew his whole summer holidays were based around going out with his dad on their bikes. A lot of our kids who lose bikes can’t afford to replace it if they are lucky enough to have one on the first place.

“I wanted to get him a bike from somewhere so I sent an email around to the staff to see if anyone had one that wasn’t being used. I got a really overwhelming response with so many people willing to donate.

“I knew lots of others who wanted a bike but their families couldn’t afford to buy one and it went from there. Others have brought bikes from home and have learned how to fix it.

“I’ve been thrilled by the response. Barry gives up his time after work to help and we’re really grateful for that. I’m really pleased with how the pupils have helped each other and these are pupils who would never normally mix as they are in different year groups.”

The club includes a mixture of pupils from Year 7 to 11 as they learn valuable life skills such as mechanics, engineering and repairs.  

Martin Nnadiwuagha, Blake Holders and Jakim Emmanuel with one of the bikes they are repairing

Year 11 pupil Arinze Nnadiwuagha, 16, said: “I live far from the school so practically I would like to get a second-hand bike for free so I don’t have to walk.

“I now know how to change the brakes and wheels. I’m happy to stay after school to do this and I think this is a good idea for other schools. Some people did not have bikes before but some do that were broken and after two weeks they know how to repair them.”

His 12-year-old brother Martin, who is in Year 8, added: “It’s very useful for those who don’t live nearby as they can come here and they get a bike at the end of it.

“Now if I have a bike I will know how to fix it and I think it will benefit more people. A bike is useful and easier than walking to school.”

Year 9 pupil Jessica Wang, 13, said: “I’ve come to the club because I’m interested in engineering and mechanical engineering and this allows me to experience it. I’ve found out how to change the brakes, fix the gears and adjust the height. More schools should offer this.”

Joleen Ballesteros, Year 9, also 13, said: “I have come to the club because I want to learn more things and experience more things. I’ve learned more than I expected. I think it’s a good idea to introduce something like this.”

Victor Okoro, Mark Alade and Joleen Ballesteros have been learning how to repair bikes

The bicycles have been provided by staff members, families, friends, the community and recycling centres in Ilkeston and Raynesway.

They have collected between 40 and 50 bikes of all shapes and sizes and in various states of disrepair at the school, which is part of the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust.

Some pupils have enjoyed it so much that they want to fix more bikes for someone else once they have finished their own, this includes smaller ones which would suit primary school children.

The students at The Cycle Recycle are also fixing up an old-fashioned style bike so it can be used in the school production of The Wizard of Oz.

Bike expert Mr Tomlinson said: “It’s a good project for them to learn mechanical skills that can be adapted for many jobs in the future. This is a different experience for them from the everyday.

“I was approached by the school about this and I enjoy doing it. They have enjoyed doing it as well. Anything that promotes engineering can only be good. All schools should teach workplace skills like this.”

This story was written and shared on behalf of Derby Diocesan Academy Trust by Jenny Moody. Can we share your news and get you in the headlines too? Find out how we can help by getting in touch.

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