Rarely do children get to include climbing within their school day, but at Berrymede Junior School in Acton, it’s a popular part of the timetable as an exciting partnership with Westway Sports & Fitness has opened up a range of climbing opportunities.
Berrymedes’ Head of PE, Steve Cotton, first approached Matt Tomlinson, Head of Climbing at Westway, to find out more about coaching qualifications in the sport of climbing and to discuss other ideas on how the school could better optimise its investment in its transverse climbing wall.
On the partnership, Matt comments: ‘Westway is always looking to build partnerships with local schools to offer subsidised sessions that will provide children with sporting opportunities not usually available to them. The collaboration with Berrymede has highlighted the widespread interest and enthusiasm that children have for climbing – a sport that most inner city London children do not get the chance to try.
‘Working with Steve we were able to design a dynamic climbing programme that could be delivered on the Westwayclimbing wall and also on the Schools traverse wall.’
Westway’s first recommendation was to refit all the panels on the school’s two existing traverse walls and fit internal threads for over 1,000 different hold placements. This provided scope for many more route opportunities than the former walls had offered. The progression of levels and variety of holds now enables the children to learn the fundamental movements of climbing and aspire to reach the most challenging level.
As well as these changes to the structure of the walls, promising climbers were selected by the Westway team to attend specially designed climbing sessions at the Westway climbing centre. The programme successfully supported the school’s climbing programme and created an opportunity for the children to compete in the WestwaySuper League boulder competition against Westway’s junior climbing squad and training academy members. Despite being the first climbing competition Berrymede pupils took part in, pupils impressively achieved two podium places, including one 1st place, for the under nine age group.
Steve Cotton, Head of PE at the school, says: ”We’re incredible proud of the children’s climbing accomplishments .Our partnership with Westway has been fantastic for both the school, and the children benefiting from the facilities and expertise of all those involved at Westway.
‘It’s great to see children more active at break and lunch time. The children have learnt how to set goals for themselves and learned to become more self-motivated by targeting the next traversing level. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the teamwork, problem-solving and achievement taking place outside of the classroom as well as within it.’
To celebrate the children’s climbing accomplishments, not only did Westway arrange for Molly Thompson-Smith, Captain of the GB Junior Climbing Team, to make a surprise appearance at the school to meet the climbers but the children were also treated to an outdoor climbing trip to Wales, culminating in a climb to the summit of Mt Snowdon, 1085m high.