"The NICAS scheme is fantastic for my business. It forms the basis of our entire junior programme, and staff find it accessible for everyone. It's a real asset to the climbing industry"
(Keith Harrison, Director, Nottingham Climbing Centre)

If you represent a wall who is considering offering our schemes, find out all you need to know by reading the handy guide below. There's a dedicated page for Freelance Coaches too.

If you already deliver NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering you are able to access our additional resources, and candidate database, by visiting our Provider Area.

Existing accredited centres can also order our products (logbooks, etc) here.

We're thinking about getting involvedPlease read the following information if your wall is thinking of running NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering. This applies if you are part of a school wall, a commercial climbing wall, or an Activity Centre. If you can't find what you're looking for, contact us.

Scheme Structure

Take a look at our webpage The Schemes to find out all you need to know about how they are structured.

Steps to running the schemes

The first thing to do is to have a look at our webpage How to register as an Accredited Centre.

What are the different types of centre?

Primary Centres act as hubs for affiliated Awarding Centres. A Primary Centre is a centre of local excellence, promoting best practice in coaching, with excellent, well maintained, varied facilities. They are considered ambassadors for NICAS and are expected to maintain the highest standards of behaviour. They work to bring new Awarding Centres into the Schemes. Primary Centres deliver either Levels 1-4 or 1-5. They buy materials in bulk and receive a discount as a result.

Awarding Centres may offer anything from Level 1 on a mobile climbing tower, to Level 5. They may be school walls, or walls which are commercial, open to the public, or have many different user groups.

Awarding Organisations are a special category who only work with a restricted set of climbers, their facilities are never open to the public or to other coaches, and they have multiple sites. They can only offer Levels 1 to 3.

Collectively, Primary Centres, Awarding Centres and Awarding Organisations are known as Accredited Centres.

Some mobile climbing towers may be used for Level 1 of NICAS. All Accredited Centres can give out free Participation Certificates for people climbing for the first time, or in one-off sessions.

What is the role of a coach?

A note on wording: we believe every instructor is a coach, so we use the word coach throughout to refer to all those who work with NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering candidates.

Let’s start with a definition of what we call a coach: they are an instructor at a NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering Accredited Centre who delivers the NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering syllabus. We expect coaches to have certain levels of NGB awards or experience before they can deliver particular levels of our syllabus.

Read more about the role of the coach, as well as the roles of Technical Experts, Course Directors, and Competent Persons on our Roles and Responsibilities page.

Sample lesson plans

What sort of things does a NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering coach teach? Here are some sample lesson plans:

We plan to apply - what next? Great! You need to send us an application form. This will be reviewed by our NICAS Screening Committee. Details on how to apply are on our registration page.

If your application is successful, you will be given the following materials and support:

  • A written formal confirmation of your approval to deliver NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering as appropriate, setting out clearly any provisos or restrictions. Common provisos include:
  • (for Primary Centres or Level 5 centres) completing Full ABC membership within 12 months,
  • A Course Director completing a NGB qualification or Coaching Award within a shorter timescale,
  • A requirement for route-setting to be completed regularly.

  • A welcome pack containing:
  • A Welcome letter
  • A materials pricing sheet
  • Posters and other marketing materials
  • After approval and upon registation payment, you'll receive an A4 Display Certificate confirming your centre's level of approval

  • Access to the Provider section of this website, within which you will find:
  • The online candidate database for registering new candidates and accrediting existing candidates
  • Resources exclusive to approved centres, including lesson plans, videos and teaching resources

You will have access to the NICAS Administration and Technical teams via email and telephone to ask for guidance (if the questions cannot be resolved by your Course Director, Technical Advisor / Competent Person, or Primary Centre).You can also order logbooks and other materials for candidates to support Scheme delivery (Primary Centres order via NICAS, Awarding Centres order via their Primary Centre).

What do centres promise to do?

“Developing Climbers Through Quality Coaching”

Centres promise to run the Schemes according to our guidance, ensuring that the facilities, coaches and delivery of NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering meet the national guidelines. They will make sure all candidates have logbooks, and will update candidates’ details on the national database promptly. They will make sure candidates receive quality coaching and support to help them achieve their full potential as climbers.

Centres will maintain communications with NICAS, especially if there is a change of personnel and will allow NICAS Technical Experts to conduct moderations on site. All coaches will have an induction before they start coaching on either Scheme and will complete a reinduction at least every three years.

What does NICAS promise to do?

NICAS will support all aspirant and Accredited centres to deliver NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering to the best of their ability and to inspire new generations of climbers. We will deal with centres in a fair, transparent and timely fashion. We will signpost new climbers towards their nearest centre, and provide details of local TAs and CPs to aspirant centres. Also:

  • Providing inductions, training and moderations to Accredited Centres using NICAS Coaches, Technical Experts or the Technical Officer.
  • Processing applications from aspirant Accredited Centres in a timely fashion, communicating the progress with them on a regular basis and providing support where additional information or training is required to meet the minimum standards required. A NICAS Screening Committee will consider all NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering applications and may consider changes of key personnel (Course Director, Competent Person or Technical Advisor).
  • Maintaining the website with up to date information about the Schemes and good practice information.
  • Providing national and local seminars to promote best practice and disseminate knowledge about the Schemes and any changes to them.
  • Providing logbooks, literature and merchandise in a timely fashion to Accredited Centres upon request. Logbooks will be provided to Primary Centres at trade price in UK£ Sterling and the ABCTT will set a retail price that allows Primary Centres to make a margin on their sale to candidates or other Accredited Centres. For centres who sell the materials in a currency other than UK£ Sterling, the ABCTT will set a maximum resale price in the local currency. NICAS will review the currency exchange rates regularly to ensure that the Primary Centre and Awarding Centre are not disadvantaged by any significant changes in the exchange rate.
  • In certain situations, supporting Course Directors, Competent Persons, Technical Advisors and named instructional staff to achieve National Governing body recognised climbing qualifications or other bespoke training.
  • Constantly auditing and monitoring the Schemes and reviewing developments in artificial wall climbing, modifying NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering as necessary to reflect best practice.
  • Providing all Accredited Centres with access to NICAS Newsletters and annual reports.
  • Providing support and publicity for the delivery of NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering including liaison with user organisations and other awarding bodies, through the work of NICAS. This includes continuous review of NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering and co-ordination between the various home nation Mountaineering Councils, Mountain Training Boards and ABC Members.
  • Providing facilities and personnel for dealing with any grievance and appeals procedure for Accredited Centres, candidates and interested / affected parties, whenever appropriate, using the NICAS published Complaints Procedure.

Good Governance

  • We have a Board of Trustees which meets regularly and has observers from Mountain Training, the BMC, Mountaineering Scotland and Mountaineering Ireland.
  • We maintain close working links with the BMC, MT, ABC and other similar organisations.
  • We send annual reports to Sport England through the BMC as our National Governing Body.
  • We are registered as a charity (as The Association of British Climbing Walls Training Trust, ABCTT) and have independent auditors to review our annual accounts, which can be viewed through Companies House and the Charity Commission.
  • We are signed up to the Voluntary Code of Good Governance through the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
Benefits, Successes and Income Potential Please have a look at some of our success stories from a candidate's perspective and from a parent's perspective. For a climbing wall, the benefits of running our schemes include:
  • access to a nationally recognised syllabus
  • help and advice
  • resources (lesson plans, health and safety information, ideas on modifying the scheme to suit candidates with particular needs)
  • financial benefits.

Read about for Zoe Spriggins (now the BMC's Competition Manager), when she managed Awesome Walls in Sheffield.
Who can build a wall for us? If you don't yet have a climbing or bouldering wall and are wondering where to start, we can point you in the right direction. There are a lot of wall builders available and they can design something which works in the environment and space you have available, making sure it meets the British and European standards (BS:EN 12572). If you specifically want to be able to deliver NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering on your structure then let them know and if they're not sure what's required for each level they can contact us. A handy guide for the physical requirements for each level can be found in our Centre Handbook. Some manufacturers are members of the Climbing Wall Manufacturers Association.

Many manufacturers can also give advice on route-setting and purchase of suitable holds, ropes, PPE and other hardware.

Please note: NICAS does not specifically endorse or recommend any manufacturer.
Climbing Wall Solutions
Dream Climbing Walls
EP Climbing Walls
Highline Extreme
JM Adventure
King Kong Climbing Walls
Mock Rock
Tailored Climbing Wall Solutions

NICAS from NICAS on Vimeo.

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