Small village school defies odds to win Big Pedal

Teacher and pupils celebrate Big Pedal win

P4 pupils from Christ The King Primary School, Co Down with teacher Miss Uprichard celebrate their win in the Big Pedal competition.

Pupils cycling in playground

P4 pupils from Christ The King celebrate their Big Pedal win on their bikes at school

24 May 2018

A Co Down school has seen off stiff competition from across the UK to win overall first place in its category in the Big Pedal Competition.

Pupils from Christ The King Primary, near the rural village of Drumaness pedalled and scooted their way to overall 1st place, beating schools from across the UK. The school achieved an outstanding daily average of 100% of pupils travelling to school by bike or scooter.

Organised by Sustrans, and sponsored by Micro Scooters and Tonik, the Big Pedal, which took place from 23 April to 4 May, is the largest inter-school competition of its kind in the UK.

I loved coming to school on my bike, I felt wide awake and had lots of fun cycling with my friends.

- Eimar, pupil at Christ The King

Emma Keenan, Sustrans Active School Travel Manager in Northern Ireland, praised Christ The King Primary’s tremendous achievement.

“Taking first place in the Big Pedal is an impressive result but even more so given the lack of safe infrastructure to enable pupils to cycle or walk,” she said. “Christ The King have certainly defied the odds.”

There are just 104 pupils at the school which is on a quiet, narrow road but children have to cross a very busy commuter route from the village to get to school. There used to be a lollipop patrol person on the main road but this is no longer the case, and there are no crossing facilities which would enable more children to safely walk, scoot or cycle the journey.

Northern Ireland schools win top three places

The top three winners in the Small Schools category were all from rural Northern Ireland, making it the region’s most successful year in the Big Pedal. A record 146 schools across Northern Ireland registered to take part in The Big Pedal, which has been running since 2010.

In very close second place was Killylea Primary in Armagh* and St Mary’s Primary, Killyleagh, Co Down took the third spot. A Belfast school, St Kieran's Primary also came in third place in the Large Primary Schools category with nearly 80% travelling by bike or scooter.

The 10-day challenge across the UK saw pupils, parents and staff leave the cars at home with nearly one million journeys being made by bike or scooter.

We saw a massive improvement in the children’s concentration and focus on the days they had cycled or scooted to school.

- Lindsey Upritchard, Schoolteacher, Christ The King Primary

School Principal, Grainne Fay was delighted at the school’s success. She said: “Here in Christ the King we have fantastic support from the whole school community and this was no different during the Big Pedal.

“Families joined in with the competition by also making the journey to school by bike or scooter and this gave the pupils a great confidence boost, and helped us win! There was a real buzz in the school during the two weeks of the challenge and pupils, families and staff all had great fun being active on their way to school.”

Above all the pupils enjoyed the competition. Primary 4 pupil Eimar said: “I loved coming to school on my bike, I felt wide awake and had lots of fun cycling with my friends.”

Teacher Lindsey Upritchard described how the active travel journeys to school paid dividends in the classroom.

“As teachers we saw a massive improvement in the children’s concentration and focus on the days they had cycled or scooted to school,” she said. “Every day in school we do the Daily Mile, and during the Big Pedal we all did our Daily Mile on our bikes and scooters instead of walking and the boys and girls absolutely loved this. They really enjoyed the challenge and are delighted to have done so well.”

Killylea Primary School in Armagh also achieved 100% participation but was pipped to the post by Christ The King which had more supporter journeys (parents, relatives cycling/scooting)

Top stats from this year's Big Pedal

Across the UK

  • almost 2.4 million miles cycled or scooted across the UK – equal to 96 trips around the world
  • almost 576 tonnes of CO2 not emitted across the UK

In Northern Ireland

  • over 116,900 car journeys were avoided, saving £24,000 in fuel costs
  • exactly 42 tonnes of CO2 were not emitted
  • over 3.4 million calories burned

More information about the Big Pedal results

Read more about our work in schools in Northern Ireland