Rock Climbing is an exciting and fun activity we use to instil trust and confidence in our young people at Penkford. When students first begin their Outdoor Education programme they often don’t expect the positive changes possible after spending a term rock climbing. Check out our photo gallery to see what our students can achieve after some training and a lot of hard work and determination.

Week 1-2

We start with our beginner sessions at local indoor climbing centres, based in Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington and Widnes. For our first couple of sessions we focus on movement and building strength. We believe the best way to do this is through Boldering. This is a low level form of climbing using no equipment, simply climb to the top then drop on to the mats below.

Week 3-4

We then progress onto Top Roping. This style of climbing is also known as sport climbing. The name comes from the fact that the rope already placed at the top of the wall for you. Top Roping requires the use of a harness, helmet, rope and a climbing partner to belay you (hold the rope for you). Some of the walls we climb are up to 25m tall to reach the top requires not only self confidence and self belief but requires pupils to trust each other as they perform both roles, climber and belayer. Our fully qualified staff support learners of all ages and abilities through these early stages. Once the pupils are removed from their comfort zone and start to push themselves it allows us to provide some extended learning experiences.

Week 5-6

Now our students are super confident in their ability and have learnt to trust each other, we step this up a notch and take them climbing OUTDOORs. We use local quarrys and crags throughout the North West, not only is this a chance for us to progress their climbing ability we also discuss topics like native flora and fauna, conservation and geology.

Here is a list of some of the skills our students will learn at the end of a term;

Hard Skills

  • Tie a figure of eight knot and attach a climber safely
  • Fit a harness correctly
  • How to use a belay device and develop a safe belaying technique
  • Bouldering
  • Top Roping
  • Lead Climbing
  • Peer Coaching

Soft Skills

  • Communication
  • Self control
  • Respect and trust for others
  • Ability to manage their feelings positively


All students in school will work towards their AQA unit awards in every aspect of outdoor education and will have the chance to achieve level 1-3 in nearly all activities available. The students understand that the unit awards take hard work and will only be awarded to those students meeting the challenging assessment criteria. Our students also develop their soft skills in communication and self control. Through the challenging situations we place our students in they learn how to manage their feeling and can then transfer these new skills to the classroom making for a calm and safe learning environment.

Some of our older students may progress beyond this point depending on their natural ability and determination. During the indoor sessions there is also the chance for students to advance to Lead Climbing. This is performed in the same style as Top Roping but you carry the rope with you as you climb, this increases the challenge but also the excitement and intrinsic benefits.

“You should fall because you fail to do the move, not because you fail to try the move.”

― Andy Kirkpatrick1000+ Climbing Tips

Penkford School. Wharf Road, Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside WA12 9XZ

Tel: 01744 678745 | Fax: 01744 678748 | Email: