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SCHOOL

Austrian students keep fit with classroom bikes

Exercise bikes placed at the back of classrooms are helping school pupils in Austria keep fit while studying.

Austrian students keep fit with classroom bikes
Read and Ride

Around 200 pupils at a school on Dietrichgasse in Vienna’s Landstraße district have adopted the concept of ‘learning while moving’ by riding exercise bikes at the back of the classroom.

Students and teachers told the Austrian broadcaster ORF that as well as keeping them fit, the exercise helps improve concentration in the class.

“I don’t fall asleep and I don’t become tired,” one student said.

Another added: “It is a lot of fun and it perks you up if you are cycling in the morning.”

“We know it helps concentration,” explains teacher Karin Rohrer-Blaschke. “It works beautifully. The pupils can also write, read, and do everything else at the same time as riding the machine.”

The pupils change places every thirty minutes so all the students get a chance to exercise.

Some form of ‘moving while learning’ has been adopted in more than 200 Vienna school classes since 2000. The Dietrichgasse school had to fund its own exercise bikes and was supported by the district, parent organisations, and sponsors.

Other countries have also adopted the concept. In the United States the Read and Ride programme, which started in a primary school in North Carolina in 2009, now funds exercise bikes in over 30 schools.

One study carried out by a school using their programme found students who spent the most time on the bikes achieved 83 percent proficiency in reading, compared to 41 percent for those who spent the least amount of time exercising in class.

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ISLAM

Islamic school closed for ‘endangering children’

A private Islamic primary school in Vienna's Brigittenau district has been shut down as the city council believes its students’ welfare was endangered, the Kurier newspaper reports.

Islamic school closed for 'endangering children'
Photo: meinbezirk.at

This comes after a young girl was knocked over by a classmate and seriously bruised her forehead. The headmistress did not call an ambulance and only reported the incident to the police the following day – when the girl still had significant swelling on her head.

When she was challenged about this she said that protecting her pupils’ parents is a priority for her – especially as many of them are originally from Chechnya and do not have health insurance.

She said that the girl’s mother had taken her daughter to the doctor herself.

The school board said that the headmistress had banned any of her teaching staff from cooperating with local authorities, even if a child was injured. She wanted everything to be handled internally, so as not to upset the children's parents.

The school, which is run by an organization called Zukunft für alle, rejected allegations that the children were in any danger and said it would challenge the school board’s ruling.

Chairwoman Silia Kandil told the Kurier that unless it is a medical emergency, parents have the right to decide whether to take their child to the doctor or not. She added that she had not instructed the headmistress not to call an ambulance, and that she seemed to be suffering from "burn out". 

Parents will now have to look for new schools for their children, and many have complained that the school board is discriminating against Muslims. The school had 33 pupils.

In 2013 the school was criticised for “a lack of moral reliability” by the school board after it failed to pay for textbooks it had ordered.

Last year another Islamic school, the Saudi School Vienna, also made headlines after school history books were allegedly found to contain anti-Semitic texts.