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> A higher education: A review of school climbing sessions in 2022-23

A higher education: A review of school climbing sessions in 2022-23

Schools at Climb Quest

A higher education: A review of school climbing sessions in 2022-23

The 2022-23 academic year has been our busiest yet for hosting school groups at Climb Quest Milton Keynes. At the start of the year, we launched two multi-week climbing courses for schools. Here is a short review of those courses and three mini-case studies from local schools, as well as feedback from students taking part.

The courses cater for a diverse range of students and the outcomes were particularly positive for SEND, SEMH and nurture groups, students with behavioural issues and students in receipt of the pupil premium.

We also saw an increase in the sessions we have run where the students have been identified as ‘Non Sporty’ in terms of their interest and exposure to traditional school sports. The Climb Quest sessions helped these students to see that physical activity can be fun and rewarding

There are two main courses to choose from:


National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes (NICAS) are a nationally recognised introduction to climbing and provide a gateway to learning more and developing a love for the sport. The NICAS Clip course is perfect if you are looking for an engaging and inclusive new sport to introduce specific groups of Year 5 and above students to.  

Discovery Course 

This course is perfect for climbers up to Year 4 and SEND students as it can be customised to individual groups and is focused on confidence building.  

 The main benefits schools highlight from the courses are confidence building, achieving goals, resilience, improved communication and teamwork.  

Student feedback: Brooklands Middle School after NICAS Clip Course 

Brooklands were one of the first school to take part in our 6 week NICAS Clip Course. A great way to illustrate the benefits from the courses to read the feedback that students gave about their experiences: 

  • Over the past 6 weeks we have been doing indoor climbing. I personally have enjoyed the lessons. Some of the skills I have learnt include: Putting a harness on, Teamwork building in grand activities and how to safely abseil down a wall. I can proudly say that it has built my confidence in climbing and coming down walls. I have really enjoyed my time doing indoor climbing and I will be sad when it ends however I will definitely come back and will not hesitate to beat Big Cheese. 
  • My experience at NICAS was amazing! The crew is very helpful! They help if you are struggling. I recommend it. 
  • I have found NICAS an incredible experience. The care was incredible. The facilities are nothing short of perfection and the range of climbing walls able to satisfy anybody. The staff were extremely kin, and got there message through very well. I am honored to have taken part in NICAS. I loved it! 
  • This half term I went rock climbing. It was pretty cool and I learned a lot. I can now climb walls and drop down safely. 
  • During rock climbing I really enjoyed it. I have missed 1 week but don’t think that gives me a disadvantage. I really enjoy going and I wish I could go longer. 
  • I have really enjoyed this course. It has been really fun and helped me a lot with my self-esteem and it is one of the very few sports that I enjoy. Thank you for this amazing opportunity   
  • I have enjoyed climbing, my favorite part was doing the challenged and learning new things. 

Case Study 1: Broughton Fields Primary SchoolYear 4 climbing course  

Session details  

Climb Quest ran a six week programme of climbing sessions for the School’s Year 4s, aged 8 and 9.  

Feedback from Nicola Mansfield Niemi, Assistant Headteacher and Curriculum Lead 

Why did you choose us as an activity?  

A PE opportunity beyond anything we would ordinarily be able to offer our pupils. 

How did you feel the visit linked in with your curriculum? 

Clear links with PE curriculum, and the aspirational side and achievement. 

 What do you feel the sessions achieved?  

A lot of children were very nervous about climbing when they first started. But over the course of the sessions, their confidence improved which was lovely to see. Even if the children did not reach the top of the wall, lots of them were very proud of their progress. The sessions were challenging physically but also mentally as the children problem solved to get further up the wall. 

What was the feedback from the students? 

The children loved the experience, they all were very excited before each session and proud after. Many of the children enjoyed the challenge checklist sheets that were provided and spoke about the challenge they were currently completing. 

Case Study 2: Aylesbury Grammar School Climbing course for Year 9s and 10s 

Session details  

Chris Duggan, Head of PE, wanted to encourage students who were less engaged in traditional sports to try climbing as an alternative sport. He organised two groups of students to attend Climb Quest’s 6 week climbing course which involved a mixture of challenges, games and working on climbing technique.  

Feedback Chris and his team 

It has been great to see the boys who don’t normally participate in extra-curricular activities really engage with the Climbing sessions. The team at Climb Quest have been excellent, in terms of the initial booking, liaising with their requirements, catering to our student’s needs and challenging them to ensure progression.  

Feedback from the students 

The boys have really enjoyed the sessions, with a number of students engaging with Climbing for the first time. They really enjoyed the different challenges set by the instructors and have relished the challenges.  

Case Study 3St Paul’s Catholic School – Secondary School SEND sessions  

Session details  

Climbing sessions for a mixed group of students who are identified as SEND, aged between 11 and 14 years old. This covered a broad range of students, those who were Hearing Impaired, Visually Impaired, some with Autism or other social communication difficulties or any other need.  

Feedback from Nicola Bradley – Deputy SENCo and Head of Hearing Impaired Department   

Why did you choose us as an activity?  

We wanted an activity to reward our pupils for their amazing effort at school. We wanted something a bit different, that would incorporate challenge and show them that strengths and skills don’t always lie in academia. We thought that the flexibility of your approach and the fact that we would have the building to ourselves meant the group of students would feel safe even though they were in a very different environment.  

How did you feel the visit linked in with your curriculum?  

It builds towards the holistic nature of teaching – that we support the whole child. It has obvious links to PE and sport but also developed their risk taking and resilience and brought them together as a community whilst they got to share in each other’s successes.  

What do you feel the sessions achieved?  

Lots of fun was had and students came away feeling exhilarated and successful. They were buzzing with their achievements and the progress they made in climbing in such a short space of time. A real sense of community and confidence. It is wonderful to be part of that. 

What was the feedback from the students?  

They loved it – they talked about it for days and we get regular requests to run the trip again. Some students have gone on to go more regularly with their families on the weekends!