Are you a freelance climbing coach, or a climbing coach at a non-accredited centre, who would like to deliver NICAS sessions? You're in the right place!

NICAS schemes can only be delivered at accredited centres, but providing you meet our minimum coaching requirements and have completed a NICAS induction, you may be able to put an agreement in place with an accredited centre to deliver NICAS sessions using their facilities. Check below to find out more...

What are the requirements?

NICAS schemes can only be delivered at accredited centres, but providing you hold the right qualifications and have received an induction, you may be able to deliver the syllabus at these centres.

You can check what qualifications and training are required to deliver each NICAS scheme and level on our Minimum Requirements page. We require freelance coaches to have higher levels of qualifications and coaching experience than in-house coaches who are located at a specific centre. All NICAS coaches including freelancers must be aged 18 or over.

All freelance coaches require an induction by the NICAS Coach Development Team: check our induction calendar. After you've had an induction you'll also get access to the NICAS coaching handbooks, which set out the syllabus and guidance for each level.

Every centre that is approved for delivery of NICAS has a Course Director with overall responsibility for running NICAS there. Before you book an induction, contact them to check what their requirements are. Many centres will ask freelance instructors to provide proof of:
  • Insurance
  • First Aid
  • Qualifications, training and experience
  • DBS check (or other local equivalent)

As you will know, every climbing centre is run as a stand-alone business and individual centres may not allow freelance coaches to take clients or groups there. The centre's own policies override those of NICAS in this case: we won't challenge their decision as to whether they allow freelancers. If they do allow freelance coaches, we will require you to meet our qualification requirements to deliver our schemes at their centre.

What are you allowed to do?

Depending on your qualifications and training, you may train and assess candidates up to and including NICAS Climbing Level 4 or NICAS Bouldering Level 4. Only in-house coaches can deliver Level 5, unless specifically agreed otherwise; this requires sign off by NICAS and the accredited centre. You cannot register candidates or award certificates: this can only be done by the Course Director of the accredited centre - see below.

Course Directors of the accredited centres where you're coaching must satisfy themselves that you have sufficient qualifications, training and experience, and insurance to deliver the relevant levels of your chosen scheme. Accredited centres reserve the right to refuse to allow you to deliver NICAS sessions at their centre, even if you meet our minimum coaching requirements and have received an induction from NICAS.

Registering candidates

If you use multiple centres, we recommend you choose the largest as your main centre. You need to let that centre's Course Director know the details of your candidates so they can set up an online record for them and provide you with logbooks. The online record generates a unique candidate number which identifies each candidate; this number should be written inside the logbook.

Every candidate must have their own logbook, which you will need to purchase through the centre you have an agreement with. The cost of the logbook includes any certificates for those levels. The Course Director at that centre should sign and give these to you as each candidate passes their assessment.

The minimum information the Course Director will need for the online candidate database is:
  • Candidate's first name and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender (Male/Female/Not Specified/Gender Neutral
  • Which NICAS scheme
  • Date you are registering them for the scheme
  • Date that they pass each level (if applicable)

Each time you go to another NICAS centre you will need to make contact with the Course Director so they are aware that you are inducted, that your candidates are registered, and that they have logbooks.

Assessing candidates

The Course Director at each centre you use may want to be involved in some elements of the delivery or assessment of your candidates.
The final decision about any candidate assessment rests with the Course Director. This is because they retain over-arching responsibility for all candidates who are registered at their centre. In the event of a query or complaint from an exam board, an awarding body or any other third party, the Course Director needs to have sufficient knowledge of the candidates and their abilities to be able to justify their level of accreditation, or the grade given at an examination. (This is not hypothetical - this has happened in the past, so the Course Director really needs to have confidence in what's happening in their centre and why candidates have the accreditations or deferrals they have!)

Climbing at other centres (or on real rock)

Any climbing, belaying or bouldering done at a registered NICAS centre counts towards their syllabus and assessment criteria. If your candidates are lucky enough to climb outdoors with you, or if they go to another centre which isn't accredited, we encourage them to record their achievements, but be aware that this can't be counted towards their NICAS Climbing and/or NICAS Bouldering levels. It demonstrates a breadth of experience and is good practice to log everything though.

Other stuff (the small print)

You need to complete a re-induction at least every three years in order to continue to deliver NICAS sessions. You do not need a re-induction for each centre you use.

You may advertise that you deliver NICAS sessions but must name the centres you use and the schemes/levels you deliver at each.

You may use our logos with restricted permissions - have a look at the ' ' document.

Applying to be an Accredited Centre

If you work regularly at a facility which has a suitable climbing or bouldering wall, why not consider applying for that facility to become an accredited centre in its own right? You do not have to be an employee or work there full-time: we only need the approval of the owner or manager of that site for you to be the named Course Director.

An example might be a school wall where they contract or employ you to deliver climbing as part of their GCSE PE. The wall might never be used by any other groups, or open to the public, but you use it regularly with school pupils. As a Course Director, you could then buy logbooks at a slightly reduced rate, register candidates online, and award and sign pass certificates on your own. Find out how to become a registered centre for more information.

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