Grades boosted by school climbing walls

Posted by Peter Burnside on 16/06/2016
Learning the ropes at the climbing wall. Photo: Shutterstock / Aleksei Potov

Having a climbing wall in a school not only boosts children's climbing grade, there are amazing benefits to health, academic performance, and social skills as well. But not only that, it opens the door to an array of career pathways.

Physical and mental wellbeing

Having access to a climbing wall, and using it, leads to a marked improvement of physical literacy in terms of balance, agility and coordination. Regularly climbing is a great form of exercise with many health benefits, but it doesn't just end there.

Climbing walls can also offer the opportunity to teach aspects of maths and science; when you start getting ropes out and teach the forces involved with falling, and how to use pulleys to maximise your pulling power.

Meanwhile, climbing is a slightly more niche and less conventional PE sport (it is a GCSE option!), which some children who struggle with normal school sports can often excel at. 

WATCH: The benefits of climbing walls at schools on BMC TV

Thanks to Steve Cotton and Berrymede school for helping to show what benefits climbing walls can bring to schools.

Climbing the career ladder

The main modern pathway into rock climbing, and the variety of careers it offers, is through climbing walls. Having the option to try climbing in schools is a good way of setting a spark in some children. And it can also be great fun for teachers and staff who are keen to have a go, get involved and train up to be a supervisor.

Traverse walls and higher roped walls which schools can get, or may already have, should be seen as a stepping stone towards opening up some excellent personal and professional opportunities for children. 

While not highly advertised, the option to take climbing at GCSE level has been available for a number of years. Further experience with climbing gains access to the huge and varied outdoor industries sector, where jobs range from: instruction, industrial ropes access, marketing, business, shop work, and almost any other job that requires knowledge of climbing and all the gear it involves.

A great way to get into climbing is the National Climbing Award Scheme - a 5 level scheme that teaches you the basic skills of climbing and bouldering right up to a high performance level. 

Children can develop their interest by joining a club, taking part in local competitions, or attending youth meets. Find out more from the professionals in the article: The 3 career paths of climbing. 

READ: The 3 career paths of climbing

Academic and social prowess

Taking part in after school clubs and organised sport helps boost academic performance and social skills, particularly among disadvantaged children, according to the Millenium Cohort Study.

Researchers from NatCen Social Research, Newcastle University and ASK Research found that:

  • Sport club participation was positively associated with attainment outcomes at age 11, when controlling for prior attainment
  • Participating in organised sport or physical activity was positively linked to social, emotional and behavioural outcomes
  • Specifically, taking part in sports clubs between age five and eleven was associated with higher odds of achieving level 5 in Maths
  • For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, after school clubs was the only organised activity linked to higher Key Stage 2 attainment and prosocial skills.

Download the full report here.

WATCH: Final of the BMC Youth Climbing Series 2016 on BMC TV


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