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February 2019 Newsletter

Read on to find out about key changes to our operations, upcoming induction dates, and more. 

NICAS for the future

2018 saw the 10-year anniversary of NICAS, a scheme which started just with a handful of climbing walls and has now grown to deliver climbing to over 140,000 young climbers at over 200 centres.

A decade in and we have taken the time to review and reflect on all we have learned. As well as our recent survey for providers (do take part if you haven't already: the prize draw is closed but feedback is still welcome) we have been talking with key providers and gathering information on how we can improve scheme take-up and increase the numbers of young climbers.

Our core schemes, NICAS and NIBAS, have always been developed with our centres and continue to evolve, so the fundamental content and structure is good.

But there is more we can do to make it easier for centres to deliver and easier for more young climbers to access the world of climbing through NICAS. Hence we have been focussing on improving the service we offer and the support we can provide to providers and candidates alike.

Over the past year we have conducted an in-depth review of our operations and have designed a plan which will consolidate everything NICAS has achieved to date, expand its infrastructure and support, whilst ensuring it is fit for growth in the future.

One of the biggest visible decisions is to move away from contracted staff and become an employer. You may not have realised, but the current Officer team are all part-time contractors. We now recognise that ABCTT should offer support, respond to your queries, and have decision making capability, five days a week. The current team are fully supportive of these changes and have spent the last few months creating a framework and structure for the brand which will see it grow significantly over the next decade.

Change is at the heart of this improvement and new staff will be bringing a fresh perspective. The existing Officer team will step aside to allow for these exciting changes from 31 March 2019. After an open recruitment process, we are pleased to introduce Abbi Blakey in a new role as Membership Manager, providing continuity of expertise. Recruitment for a Managing Director (combining the Executive and Technical Officer roles) and for further admin support will start very soon. 

During this transitional period (March/April) we would be really grateful if you are thinking of placing orders, to do so before mid-March to allow us time to manage the team changes. Whilst we do not anticipate any dip in service this will just help to ease the load a little over the short term.

Our strong core schemes will continue to be available to our huge network of committed, hard-working centres. The regular reviews, surveys and feedback we receive from centres will continue to ensure the schemes are strong, flexible and fit for purpose for the next generation of young climbers. 

These changes will enable us to: promote the schemes more widely, engage with a more diverse range of delivery partners, provide greater support for centres who deliver our schemes and improve the resources available to support both coaches and candidates. We hope this will result in many more young climbers coming through the doors of NICAS and NIBAS climbing centres.

All the team involved in NICAS are proud of what has been achieved over the past ten years and are excited about what this fresh approach will bring for the future.


In our December newsletter we mentioned that new inductions run by our Coach Development Team and aimed in particular at Technical Advisors, Competent Persons for NIBAS, and Primary Centre Course Directors were rolling out. Awarding Centre Course Directors and contacts are also welcome to attend. The first of these have taken place including recent ones held at The Boardroom (Flintshire) and at Redpoint Worcester. Several more are confirmed and others are planned over the coming months as follows:

26th March, at Boulder Shack (led by Joby Davis and Melissa Bacon). View details

29th March, at Glasgow Climbing Centre (led by Jamie Vardy and Peter Nellist). View details (NB: we would particularly encourage any bookings for this venue. This may have to be cancelled if there isn't sufficient take up.)

13th May, Bristol area

24th June, at Awesome Walls Sheffield

5th August, London area

16th September, Dundee area

28th October, East of England

9th December, Lake District area

 All sessions will show via this link (if a date is not currently showing for booking, they will become available when the venue has been confirmed).


Certificates: If you have surplus stock and do not require more certificates with your logbook orders, please let us know when you order. 

Trademarking: After completion of a long project we're pleased to advise that NICAS®, NIBAS® and ABCTT® are now trademarked.

Recruitment: As mentioned in the article above, we are due to be recruiting shortly. Please keep an eye on our website in the coming weeks and sites such as UKClimbing for more details.


As a result of our GDPR work last year, you may be aware that we removed personal data fields from the NICAS Level 1-3 logbooks (English version). In our latest reprints, the same changes have been made to our other logbooks, and we've included information within the logbooks on where to find our privacy policies. We've also included a notes area as we recognise that you may wish to record information that helps identify whose logbook it is, in line with your own ways of working at the wall. We're planning to provide further information for centres to ensure we are able to demonstrate how data privacy is managed within the ABCTT along with advice and guidance.

Survey Results

You're still welcome to take part in our survey. We have had a really useful set of responses to date and are keen over the coming months to review these, make contact with those who agreed and encouraged us to do so, and start to make tweaks to improve our services as a result. A snapshot we took provided the following statistics: 

  • 83% are either very satisfied, or satisfied, with day to day experience of our schemes

  • 79% found our customer service “extremely” or “very” helpful

  • 74% would use marketing flyers if we provided them centrally

  • 75% of coaches would like coaching tips/tricks, 70% would like technique handouts, 67% would like lesson plans
  • Almost 50/50 split on whether current Primary Centre/Awarding Centre structure works well

  • 69% of respondents said they’re happy to send a survey out to parents

  • 71% are keen to either be contacted by phone or to attend a focus group

  • The tahdah database system is seen as clunky by many. 76% found passing a candidate easy or ok but that’s 24% who find it difficult. 

This will all be taken forward, with a key focus on improving the user experience around the tahdah database. We rely on this system to work with our walls and it needs to be robust, tweaked where we can do so and we will be doing a full review of the system and possible updates and improvements as a priority. The team at tahdah are currently working on some changes which we feel will be useful and we will continue to work with them to deliver any tweaks we can to improve the system for you. The final outcomes will be reviewed and next steps taken in the coming weeks.

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