Bouldering Joins Edexcel GCSE Climbing Syllabus

As reported in a previous UKC article on GCSE Climbing, September marks the start of a revamped GCSE syllabus in a number of subjects. The Edexcel (Pearson) syllabus for GCSE Climbing has also been updated and it is now possible for candidates to be assessed in the Climbing element in the form of a bouldering-only practical. 

Macmillan Academy enjoying a GCSE Climbing session, 192 kb
Macmillan Academy enjoying a GCSE Climbing session
© Macmillan Academy

Climbing - and now bouldering - is an option as one of the three sports in which candidates are assessed for the Edexcel GCSE in Physical Education. Both discipines can be assessed indoors or outdoors.

Martin Chester, Executive Officer of the Association of British Climbing Walls Training Trust (ABCTT) told UKC:

'When the new GCSE PE syllabi were first published, we were concerned that good climbing may not necessarily be rewarded with good results for GCSE candidates. Someone needed to step up to the plate and get involved to help the exam boards understand the sport of climbing better, and how to recognise and measure success. 

'It has been a lengthy and expensive commitment, but through the excellent work of Iain McKenzie (our Technical Officer) we can be confident that becoming a better climber through NICAS will result in better GCSE results in the future. We can also take pride in the fact that our considerable investment will help support our valuable providers of the NICAS schemes, and in turn support all those talented youngsters working hard at improving their skills in our great sport of climbing.'

National Indoor Climbing and Bouldering Award Schemes (NICAS and NIBAS) Technical Officer Iain McKenzie was an advisory for Edexcel. He commented on the benefits of bouldering's introduction to the syllabus:

'It is fantastic for the bouldering walls that it is being recognised and will open up climbing to more schools and children who perhaps don't have time or facilities for rope-based climbing sessions.'

In schools which lack a climbing or bouldering wall, the qualification can be taught and assessed at local climbing centres using elements of the NICAS and NIBAS scheme, which can be used as evidence for the GCSE.

In light of the recent announcement that sport climbing will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, this latest addition to the school curriculum provides a potential launch pad for future Olympians. Hazel Findlay (NICAS Ambassador) commented:

'With climbing's entry into the Olympics more people - especially kids - will be introduced into the rich and wonderful world of climbing. Climbing is a great sport because it is physical, cognitive and social. I'm excited to see what this new phase of the sport will bring.'

For more information on the syllabus, contact

View the Practical Performance Criteria for Edexcel GCSE Climbing.

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