Rotherham pupils’ health tips from the ‘Barnsley bard’

Headteacher Rachael Colquhoun and Ian McMillan
Headteacher Rachael Colquhoun and Ian McMillan

Tweet poetry from the ‘Barnsley bard’ brightened up the morning assembly at one primary school.

Poet Ian McMillan visited Bramley Grange Primary School in Rotherham, that has been recognised for its work in encouraging children to cycle or walk to school.

Mr McMillan demonstrated the health benefits of walking by performing some of his morning stroll tweet poetry to 330 children.

He said: “Each morning, I get up early and go for a stroll through my village. I walk to the newsagent, then down a long hill and up a steeper hill and back home. It takes me about 40 minutes and I tweet about the stroll as soon as I get in.

“I try to find something new every day from the same mile and a bit. And the challenge is for me to get it all written in less than 140 characters.”

He added: “I would actively encourage everyone to do the same. It wakes me up, keeps me fit and gets my brain in gear for the day. So it has been great to inspire the kids at Bramley Grange to think about doing something similar and making up their own poems about their active routes to school.”

Rotherham Council wants people to get out of using cars and instead think about alternative methods of travel for journeys of under two miles.

National statistics show that a third of car journeys are under two miles, and it is no different in Rotherham, but the short drives create more pollution per mile because vehicles use more fuel when the engine is cold.

The Active Travel initiative highlights how such a change can improve health, wealth and reduce carbon emissions.

Parents are also being encouraged to leave the car at home for the school run. This follows international research which suggests children who walk or cycle to school have improved concentration, cognitive function and mood.

Mr McMillan presented the school with a Bronze award as part of the Modeshift STARS National Awards Scheme, which is a national award scheme to recognise schools that have demonstrated excellence in supporting active travel.

Year five pupils then spent the morning with him writing their own walking poems, using their school travel journeys as inspiration.

Headteacher Rachel Colquhoun said: “It has been a huge boost to us to have Ian McMillan come to our school to work with our pupils like this. By promoting sustainable travel in our school community we aim to improve pupil safety by easing congestion at the school gate, support pupils in achieving a healthier lifestyle and help pupils to gain independence.”