"Of all the sporting activities I have been involved with teaching young people, swimming, rugby, football, golf and The Duke of Edinburgh Award over the past 20 years, climbing has to be at the top of the list for what it asks of and teaches those involved. Communication skills, teamwork, responsibility, confidence, resilience; plus learning practical skills and theory."
(Gary Hind, West Hill School)
Case study: Wigan Youth Zone #TheseGirlsDo

Wigan Youth Zone is one of several Youth Zones who offer a place to go and activities to discover for young people. They submitted this video as part of the #thisgirlcan campaign and as you will see from watching, the video stars really enjoy their climbing. Youth Zones are for everyone, they are urban based and only 50p a session to encourage young people to come along and have fantastic experiences. Climbing is often something that isn't even a thing, until the first sight of the climbing wall at the centre! Read more here about Wigan Youth Zone.

Case study: Perth High School Back in February, it was hard to believe that we were celebrating the first birthday of our climbing wall. Partly because it had taken so long to actually get it built, but it was unbelievable that we had achieved so much in just twelve months!

The small community of climbers that had grown out of lunchtime and afterschool sessions have really taken ownership of their wall, they’ve entered the Dundee bouldering league and won podium places, they’ve started visiting other walls on school trips and on their own, some of them have even been teaching their parents to climb.

Perth High School (source: Perth High School)We’ve been running the NICAS scheme from day one and I believe that it has been the foundation that all of these achievements are built on. It provides an ideal framework for developing climbers. There’s enough structure to help me run good sessions, but provided enough flexibility to suit a range of commitment levels. For me as an instructor the nicest part of NICAS is watching the older pupils passing on their knowledge.

So what do the Perth High pupils think about climbing?

“I know its good exercise, but the best thing is bouldering – it’s just so challenging and addictive”

“Climbing is… fun, fabulous and fearless”

Tony McClelland, Outdoor Education,Perth High School (extract from NICAS newsletter 4, late 2012)
Case study: Macmillan AcademyMacmillan Academy is a secondary school in Middlesbrough that provides education for around 1,500 11 to 18 year olds. The Academy has a climbing wall on-site that was built in 2007 and is used for: after school clubs, GCSE PE, A Level PE, BTEC Sport and personal development courses. The wall has 24 ropes with around 100 graded routes of 7 metres that range from grade 3 to 7c. Routes vary over a range of features including slabs, overhangs, chimneys and real form sections.

We first heard about NICAS at the BMC climbing wall managers seminar in 2008 and were instantly impressed with the scheme. We promptly arranged an induction with our primary centre and have been successfully running the scheme ever since. We are approved to provide levels 1 & 2 but we have also helped students continue with the scheme at levels 3 & 4.

Since we started providing the NICAS we have registered over 300 individuals on the first two levels with the majority of these completing level 1 and a good number completing level 2. After completing level 2 we have had several groups of students who have moved on to level 3. We initially supported these students by taking them to approved level 3 providers and then handed over the responsibility to them to continue with the scheme under their own steam. Gladly a handful of these have completed level 3 and started level 4.

Typically our students will access NICAS through one of two routes. Either they will be enrolled onto the scheme as part of their GCSE PE, A Level PE or BTEC Sports course or they will join an after school club and choose to sign up. For those students who join the climbing club they will climb once a week after school for between 10 weeks and 7 years! For these students their NICAS logbooks have provided a valuable tool for motivating them through achievement of levels and an increased awareness of the sport as a whole. Some of our first students who started climbing when the wall was first built and continued to do so throughout their time at school are now working in climbing walls/centres. These students used the NICAS scheme extensively and are now becoming competent young instructors themselves.

The students who access NICAS through their PE lessons are supported greatly by the structure of the scheme. Interpreting the varied and complex assessment criteria of the different exam boards would understandably be confusing to your average novice climber (and most instructors). By enrolling students onto the scheme it provides a structured and logical framework to help turn novices into confident climbers. We aim for students to complete level 2 and have developed a good ability to demonstrate and understand a range of climbing techniques by the time they finish their module of GCSE PE, A Level PE or BTEC Sport. Students who achieve this will receive a high grade for their climbing module. PE staff at the school believe that the high scores students attain in rock climbing has often made the difference between students gaining their predicted grade in their GCSE and the next grade up. The logbooks provide a tool for tracking student progress each week and enabling staff to provide effective and relevant feedback. They also create a document of evidence that is invaluable when being moderated by the exam board.

Since its introduction at the school, NICAS has provided a simple and effective way for motivating novice climbers and improving achievement. It has helped staff develop effective schemes of work with detailed lesson plans which ensure each session maximises its impact. Using NICAS is fun and easy for both students and staff and I could not imagine running sessions without it.

Macmillan Academy – a Level 2 school using NICAS in GCSE by Zeff Marlowe and the students of Macmillan Academy (extract from NICAS newsletter 7, late 2013)

See also: Macmillan Academy in this UK Climbing article about GCSE climbing.

Case Study: West Hill School
West Hill School (source: G Hind)"An ex-soldier of 31 years, I’m now lucky enough to be working in an Academy school with a fantastic outlook on pupils’ personal development no matter their academic level, through adventure training and NICAS Levels 1 to 3.

Of all the sporting activities I have been involved with teaching young people, swimming, rugby, football, golf and The Duke of Edinburgh Award over the past 20 years, climbing has to be at the top of the list for what it asks of and teaches those involved. Communication skills, teamwork, responsibility, confidence, resilience; plus learning practical skills and theory.

The NICAS course really does help with confidence and resilience. The skills learnt transfer back into the classroom with some excellent results especially from those pupils lacking confidence. Pupils of all abilities are offered Level 1 and 2 on the school wall as part of GCSE PE, The Duke Of Edinburgh Award and the National 3 Peaks challenge team. The challenge team is a group of boys who attend an 18 month introduction course to the Mountain Leader Award before self-leading the National 3 Peaks for a local charity. The majority of these pupils go on to complete level 3 and 4 at Awesome Walls Stockport as well as becoming members there.

The main point I would like to mention is that of all the sports I have been connected with, climbing has to be by the friendliest. It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming people are within the climbing world as a whole irrespective of age and ability. Indoor and outdoor, fellow climbers of all abilities share a strong bond and free help and advice is readily available."

Gary Hind, West Hill School (Extract from NICAS newsletter 10, first published in March 2015)

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