United Learning announced this week that its gruelling national bike challenge RideABC has raised an enormous £30,000 for charity.
In March, as part of RideABC, our Group’s Head of Sport Shaun Dowling and Educational Technologist Bruce Wilson cycled 600 miles via over 20 schools in just one week. The route began at Ashford School and crossed Bournemouth Collegiate School on the south coast before ending near the Scottish border at Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle.
Shaun and Bruce undertook the mammoth journey to raise money for Sport Relief as well as promoting the value and impact of sport, dance and physical wellbeing within schools. At points along the way, they were joined on the cycle by Headteachers, office and PE staff and even some students. Mechanics from Cycle Tech were also on hand to provide support for the full length of the 600-mile route.
To top up the fundraising total, schools also organised their own charity celebrations, bringing together thousands of students, staff, parents and local community members in various sporting activities. This included Shoreham Academy’s annual Tough Runner, an iron man event for schools in United Learning’s Manchester cluster and mile runs at many of the Group’s primary schools. In addition to the sporting celebrations, schools’ welcomes also included student dance shows and musical performances to cheer on the cyclists.
The fundraising total will now be split 75/25 between Sport Relief, which supports disadvantaged communities around the world, and United Learning’s SIT-UPS programme. SIT-UPS seeks to drive school improvement through using the power of sport. Across many of the Group’s schools, and in particular those in more disadvantaged areas of the country, it runs a series of sporting initiatives to improve attainment and standards.
For example, United Learning will be working in partnership with Football Beyond Borders in academies in London and the North West to bring about improved educational outcomes through a football-based intervention. Targeted students will have an additional two hours a week of study; one hour of football and one hour of classroom-based support from the same football coach to help to improve their attendance, behaviour and achievement in school. A pilot study with two London academies has seen impressive results and received extremely positive feedback from staff and students alike.
SIT-UPS will also fund further work with the Sport Ambassador programme; using elite sportspeople and adventure athletes to inspire young people in the Group’s schools. Through Masterclasses, speeches and workshops they help students with the mindset, skills and qualities which they will need in the pursuit of their own goals and ambitions. Many of these Ambassadors took an active part in schools’ RideABC events – from Chris Cook and Chemmy Alcott to Adele Carlsen and Jason Gardener.
Shaun Dowling, United Learning’s Head of Sport, said:
“We are incredibly proud to have reached the £30,000 fundraising milestone through the support of our schools – thank you to everyone for their generous donations. Just as importantly though is the wider, long-term impact of RideABC; during the challenge, we saw some excellent initiatives and events celebrating the power of sport and physical activity and I know that this has continued to drive momentum and enthusiasm in many of our schools.”
Bruce Wilson, Educational Technologist for United Learning’s central team, said:
“RideABC was an incredibly tough physical and mental challenge for both of us. However, the welcome we received at every stage of our journey made it more than worth it. It was brilliant to meet with pupils and staff at schools across the country who took on the spirit of the ride and celebrated it in their own way with their own challenges. We would also like to thank our logistical crew from Cycle Tech, whose mechanics provided amazing technical and logistical support for every mile of the journey – we simply couldn’t have done it without them.”