Calderdale schools are gearing up for the Tour de France, with 20 schools in the east of the borough taking part in their own Tour de ECLC (East Calderdale Learning Community).
On Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 June, 31 teachers, head teachers and school staff, will be cycling 24.88 miles, stopping off at 20 schools, who will be hosting activities as the convoy of cyclists arrive. These will range from providing refreshments, right through to students doing demonstrations linked to the Tour.
On the first day, the tour will start at St Michael and All Angels CE Primary School in Shelf, before continuing on to Shelf Junior and Infant School, Northowram Juniors, Salterlee Academy Trust, Withinfields Primary, Siddal Primary, the William Henry Smith School, Field Lane Primary, Highbury, Castlefields Infants and finishing the first day at Longroyde Junior School.
The second day of the tour will visit Carr Green Primary, Woodhouse Primary, St Andrew’s Juniors, St Andrew’s Infants, St John’s Clifton, Cliffe Hill Community Primary, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High and St Joseph’s at Brighouse, before finishing at St Chad’s Primary.
The brave staff aren’t in for an easy ride. There are numerous challenging climbs throughout their route, including from Elland up to the William Henry Smith School in Rastrick – a long climb that gets gradually steeper.
The initial idea came about back in December 2013, after looking at how pupils could get involved in the Tour de France and the Cultural Festival. Graeme Genty (head teacher at St Chad’s CE (VA) Primary School, Brighouse) and Claire Berry (head teacher at St Michael and All Angels CE Primary School, Shelf) volunteered to organise a cycle tour of all the schools in the East Calderdale Learning Community.
Calderdale Council’s Head of Learning Services, David Whalley, is also taking part in the ride. He commented:
“The Tour de ECLC will be a challenging couple of days for those involved, but a fantastic way for all the schools within the East Calderdale Learning Community to get involved and feel a part of the celebrations throughout Yorkshire for the Yorkshire Festival and the Tour de France.
“I’m not an experienced cyclist, but I’m sure the schools along the way and the staff involved will give me encouragement to help me complete the ride.”
Head teacher of St Chad’s CE (VA) Primary School Graeme Genty, said:
“The idea was to give all of the children a real sense of occasion and to do something very hands on and practical to gear them up for the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire. Also to get the staff in schools to face a cycling challenge which should hopefully inspire them to do some Tour de France work with the children back in class.
“We’ve had lots of volunteers to ride and represent their schools and they should be fine as long as they’ve put at least a few miles training in on their bikes. Unlike the Tour de France riders themselves though, we’ll have a minibus back up…just in case any of them need a breather.”