Cherwell schoolchildren reap reward of partnership work

Pupils at 32 north Oxfordshire schools will soon be enjoying new bike libraries and extra-curricular activities, thanks to a large government funding award from the Opening School Facilities Fund.

Published: Friday, 24th March 2023

This funding is part of a total investment of £500,000 for the county and will see North Oxfordshire School Sports Partnership working with Active Oxfordshire and districts across the county to support schools to open up their facilities outside of the normal school day. Cherwell is the first district to benefit from this funding and it is expected that others will follow in the near future.

Cherwell District Council has provided £70,000 of forward funding to enable the bike libraries to be installed, while the North Oxfordshire Schools Sports Partnership is co-ordinating delivery.

Schools have been applying to fund the projects they want to see delivered in their areas, based on a series of options offered by Cherwell, including swimming, outdoor gym equipment, and Youth Activators breakfast clubs. In response, Cherwell and British Cycling are delivering 120 new bikes to schools across the district to host bike libraries.

Dean Woodham, Partnership Manager at North Oxfordshire School Sport Partnership, said: “School grounds have so much potential to offer outside the normal school day for families and their children, and we are putting this substantial funding award to work to empower the schools who want to achieve this.

“There is a special focus on doing more with girls, disadvantaged pupils and pupils with special educational needs and we are working with each school that applies to us to understand what is best for them.

“We are very proud to be leading this programme across Oxfordshire, which will see significant investment into schools. Thanks to our existing, longstanding partnerships in the district, we are in a very strong place to work with our schools and deliver positive change for young people.”

Councillor Phil Chapman, Portfolio Holder for Healthy Communities, said: “Each of the schools that has applied to us has its own vision for how the Opening School Facilities Fund can deliver for them. Whether it be through our existing partnership with British Cycling, or through the work of our Youth Activators, I am determined that the council will play a big part in helping children access a greater variety of activities during evenings, weekdays and holidays.

“It is a testament to the strength of the relationships that we have with our partner organisations that we are driving forward this trailblazing work which will make so much difference to local families and children.”

Josh Lenthall, Chief Executive of Active Oxfordshire, said: “This is a welcome investment into our county which will make a huge difference in helping local children and families to be more active together. We know that working together in partnership is the best possible way to achieve the greatest impact for our residents and are looking forward to seeing the impact that this funding achieves.”

Heidi Yates, Cherwell’s British Cycling community developer, said: “Cycling does wonders for young people’s health and wellbeing, and through British Cycling’s close relationship with Cherwell District Council, we’ve been able to make the most of this great funding opportunity to deliver six bike libraries at schools in Banbury and Bicester.

“The bikes will be used to build young people’s confidence on two wheels and as part of the offer I will be delivering training courses to the teachers and volunteers so that they in turn can pass safe cycling skills on to pupils.”

Four schools in Banbury and two in Bicester are each receiving 20 bikes, which will be stored in secure new bike shelters.

The specific activities being delivered under the scheme in various parts of the district will be advertised to pupils and their families through the local schools.

News of the Opening School Facilities Fund award comes as the council supports people wanting to carry on their healthy new year’s resolutions beyond the winter months with its #SpringIntoAction campaign.

Further information about the campaign and the various activities on offer can be found throughout the month on the council’s social media channels.

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