Climbing can be used as an individual sport as part of GCSE PE

GCSE Group SchoolAQA, Edexcel and OCR all offer climbing as an individual sport for GCSE PE that can be accessed at an indoor wall (roped and/or bouldering).

  • Nationally we've found that some students who are new to climbing can make excellent progress and achieve good results. Students who have extensive climbing experience (e.g. through NICAS*) can excel in this unit
  • Many PE students embrace this non-traditional, rewarding sport as a practical option
  • Climbing sessions could be delivered over a block of weeks or over several weekly sessions
  • Inspected safety kit will be provided by the wall/activity provider and the centre will provide a coach trained to NICAS standards* to either deliver or support delivery by the school's staff.
  • Compared to many other sports situated away from the school, it offers a cost effective way for children to get into a new sport.
  • Also doesn't rely on weather!

INTENT – allow students to access an exciting individual activity, strengthening practical marks.
IMPLEMENTATION – via NICAS trained coaches, supported by PE staff.
IMPACT – potentially high marks, great experience, additionality, independent climbers.

"We have been using climbing as an option for GCSE PE for several years and find it an excellent and efficient way for our students to access higher scores. As part of the climbing sessions we have also completed NICAS climbing courses. These help provide students with targets, and it shows the moderator/exam board that they have achieved a nationally recognised award standard." Craig McCann, Head of PE: Hodgson Academy

Top tips for using climbing as an individual sport for GCSE PE

  • Find a local climbing wall or climbing instructor Over 200 registered walls nationwide to choose from.
  • Check that your local wall has knowledge and experience of delivering climbing as part of GCSE PE.
  • Where possible, ensure students have access to climbing shoes. This is crucial to gaining higher marks.
  • Speak to your local wall / activity provider about video evidence, to see if they have ideas about collecting this.
  • Ensure your local climbing wall / activity provider will coach climbing movement skills as well as teaching technical skills, students need to demonstrate they can climb with quality and precision.
  • Programme options: 12 x 1 hour sessions; 6 x 2 hour sessions 3 x 4 hour sessions. You will need c. 12 hours of contact time to get students higher marks.

Even more ideas to get ahead with climbing for your students

  • Do you have staff in school who are climbers? If so, they may be able to help prior to a course for example with putting on harnesses, teaching knots etc.
  • Ask your Educational Visits Advisor for your LEA or MAT if they can suggest climbing walls or activity providers who already work with schools in your area.
  • There is unlikely to be a ‘live’ moderation. You will need to video everything!
  • Combine your climbing programme with students completing a NICAS Climbing or Bouldering course. This shows your moderator that they have attained a nationally recognised standard.

Give your students the opportunity to do something different, achieve, and potentially find a sport for life!

*NICAS (National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes) is the industry leader in learn to climb and boulder schemes. Only accredited centres are able to run these schemes.
For more information on approved/recommended activity providers/climbing centres, ask your Educational Visits Advisor, or drop us an email at
Lots more useful information on climbing can also be found at

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