Making the most of your climbing wall
- Super User
Welcome to the JSN Campus ‘Climbing in Schools’ page with advice and guidance for schools with roped climbing walls or low-level traversing walls.
Here you will find information about how to safely get the most from a facility, how to increase the use of a facility and how to improve the quality of coaching and instruction.
Wall Safety & Management
Safety is an essential consideration for any school with a climbing wall and any coach, instructor or climber using such a facility.
Do you know how to manage your climbing wall? Do you understand how to maintain the wall, clean the holds and set new climbs or problems on a wall? Do you understand the limitations associated with staff experience, knowledge and qualifications? Do you understand the legal requirements for ‘working at height’?
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of the above then you should read the JSN Campus Climbing Wall Manual available from the JSN Campus and then consider attending some further training. There is also some useful information here.
To maintain safety standards it is advisable to have more than one person in a school who has undertaken appropriate wall management and wall safety training (see below).
There are several options that would be appropriate for staff working within a school environment covering Wall Management, Safety Considerations and Technical Movement Skills.
1. Most climbing wall manufacturers offer training on the use of the walls they install. This is a great way to undertake training on the specific features of your wall.
2. Site-specific CPD can also be gained by using a Climbing Technical Advisor. It is recommended that all climbing walls have a Technical Advisor who is able to advise on a range of issues. To find the best person in your area we suggest that you speak with your local climbing walls and make contact with their Technical Advisor, or contact the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI).
3. Coaching basic fundamental climbing skills is not that difficult for someone with teaching skills. The JSN Campus runs a programme of full-day Fundamentals workshops, of which The fundamentals of Climbing 1 would be the most appropriate for staff to attend as it focuses on the important themes that underpin climbing movement; agility, balance and coordination; awareness of the body’s centre of gravity, and the relationship between weight transfer and economy of movement. The Campus fundamentals webpage provides more information about the programme, dates and booking procedures. Cost for the workshop is £80 per person per workshop or £65 for JSN Campus members.
4. Fundamentals for the Climbing workshop could also be delivered on your school site for up to 8 members of staff. This would be particularly appropriate if you have many staff requiring training and/or you wish to organise the training with another local school. This bespoke-workshop can also be adapted to include elements of route setting. This option would cost approximately £375 + VAT for the day for the trainer. A list of trainers is available by e-mailing Training Officer Jon Garside.
5. You may wish to obtain the nationally recognised Climbing Wall Instructor. This scheme is aimed at active climbers who wish to learn how to lead sessions and it requires attendance at a 2-day course followed by logging practice hours and an assessment. The course starts at £100 (depending on location and whether accommodation is provided) and the assessment is from £70. A minimum of 3 months is required between attending the course and the assessment, although there is no maximum time limit applied to complete the course. Further information about the Climbing Wall Instructor can be found on the Mountain Training website.
6. Mountain Training also administers a national coaching scheme, the training pathway for which includes the FUNdamentals of Climbing workshops. There are currently two levels, Foundation Coach and Development Coach. The former is available to those under 18 years of age, providing a site-specific qualification for students and teachers who may wish to coach only on their school wall.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that there are four ways for leaders to demonstrate their competence, which are: to hold the relevant qualification; to hold an equivalent qualification; to have received appropriate in-house training; to be competent through experience. It is essential that schools understand the relevance of each competency to the situation within their school. Your chosen Technical Advisor will be able to advise further.
If you are looking to hire a climbing instructor or climbing coach there is a searchable list of those with qualifications here.
The Department for Education has issued the following useful advice and the HSE has published a document which tackles health and safety myths.