Climbing Wall Development Instructor

This qualification trains and assesses candidates in the skills required to teach lead climbing skills on indoor or outdoor artificial climbing walls and structures with fixed protection. It builds on the skills gained through either the Climbing Wall Instructor or Rock Climbing Instructor qualifications, one of which must be held in order to access the scheme.

This qualification used to be called Climbing Wall Leading Award which was revised following a review and relaunched under this new name on 2nd April, 2018.

Is it for me?

The prerequisites for registration are as follows:
  • You must hold either the Climbing Wall Instructor or the Rock Climbing Instructor qualification.
If you can tick all of the above boxes, here's what to do next: Frequently asked questions


  • You must be registered on the scheme.
You must have an up to date logbook (preferably DLOG) with evidence of the following:
  • 50 led routes.
  • Climbed at 3 different major climbing walls.
  • Belayed a lead climber 50 times.
  • 25 lead routes at grade F6a on indoor climbing walls.
  • 20 supervising sessions after passing either Climbing Wall Instructor or Rock Climbing Instructor qualifications. At least 5 of these sessions must have personal reflective comments recorded on DLOG.
Training typically lasts for one day (minimum 8 hours contact time).

The Syllabus

Climbing Wall Development Instructors should be competent in the following key areas, all of which will be covered, to a greater or lesser extent, during your training course.
  • Technical Competence (including equipment, belaying and personal skills)
  • Management and Decision Making (including planning, managing participants, decision making, knowledge and demonstration of techniques)
  • Teaching and Learning Skills
  • The Climbing Wall Environment (including access, etiquette and ethics)
Detailed information on each of the above topics can be found in the Climbing Wall Development Instructor handbook (below) and the onus is on you to be competent in all of them by the time you come to assessment - use the Skills Checklist to help with this.

Handbook and Skills Checklist

Climbing Wall Development Instructor handbook
Latest version 1.1 uploaded 12/12/2018


Consolidate your experience. Candidates will generally see new ideas and techniques during training and will therefore need some time to practise and evaluate these before taking the assessment. During this period of consolidation, candidates are advised to climb at as wide a range of venues as possible, both as an individual and when assisting with the supervision of others. Mountain Training recommends that all but the most experienced candidates allow a minimum of three months between training and assessment. There is currently no time limit on the validity of a training course and some candidates may take several years to complete the qualification.

If you would like some more experience belaying lead climbers, why not volunteer to belay at the Youth Climbing Series in England and Wales, Scotland or Ireland.


Before you book onto a Climbing Wall Development Instructor assessment, make sure you have done the following:
  • You must have attended a Climbing Wall Development Instructor (or Climbing Wall Leading Award) training course or have been granted exemption from training.
  • You must be familiar with the syllabus.
  • You must have logged a minimum of 100 different lead climbs, at least half of which must be a grade of French 6a or above at 3 different major climbing walls.
  • You must have assisted or observed at least 5 teaching leading sessions delivered by a suitably qualified person. These 5 sessions must have personal reflective comments recorded on DLOG.
  • You must have physically attended and completed (i.e. not online) a first aid course which involved at least one full day or eight hours of instruction and included an element of assessment.
The Climbing Wall Development Instructor assessment is a minimum of 6 hours.

Assessments are run by one of our approved providers and a variety of cost packages are available, depending on what's included; food, accommodation etc. so you can choose one that's right for you.

Support and Development

Join the Mountain Training Association and be part of a community of like-minded people on our schemes. The Association offers a range of workshops for trainee and qualified leaders and coaches across the disciplines, as well as a quarterly magazine, gear deals/discounts, a monthly newsletter and an insurance deal. You can join the Association at any point after you have registered on one of Mountain Training's leadership/coaching schemes.
MTA logo

Climbing Wall Development Instructor profiles

These individuals gained the Climbing Wall Award which was revised and renamed on 2nd April, 2018.

Graham Little
Graham Little
Nicole Reeve
Nicole Reeve
Zoe Spriggins
Zoe Spriggins

The Scope of the Scheme

The Climbing Wall Development Instructor qualification has been designed to train and assess those who wish to teach lead climbing skills on indoor or outdoor artificial climbing walls and structures with fixed protection. This includes a wide range of structures (including, for example towers and mobile climbing walls) which will be referred to throughout as ‘walls’. These structures are deemed to have safety equipment, such as top anchors, in place and are maintained through a management regime. The award is concerned with ensuring good practice when developing leading skills. It covers the introduction, coaching and on-going development of the technical and movement skills required to lead routes. Completion of a training course, without passing the assessment, should not be considered as a qualification in itself, although it may be of benefit to the trainee.

The qualification includes a measure of personal competence. However, it is not a personal proficiency programme and should not be used as either an entry requirement, or a measure of suitability for climbing on artificial walls. The qualification is valid throughout the UK and Ireland.

For the purposes of the Climbing Wall Development Instructor, a climbing wall is:
  • An artificial structure, designed for the purpose of being used for climbing activities (this includes towers and mobile climbing walls), with fixed protection e.g. bolts
  • Indoors or outdoors
  • A structure which has safety equipment such as top anchors in place and is maintained through a management regime
The employer or organising authority must have appropriate management structures in place if they wish to employ Climbing Wall Development Instructor for duties beyond the scope of the qualification.

The Climbing Wall Development Instructor does not cover
  • the skills needed to climb and/or supervise others on natural crags and former quarries
  • multi-pitch rock climbing skills
  • the teaching or supervision of leading on outdoor crags
  • the placing of non-fixed protection
  • the use of high or low ropes courses
  • the use of ice climbing walls including dry tooling
  • the assessment of candidates’ personal qualities
  • a DBS check
If you are in doubt about a particular venue, consult a qualified Mountaineering Instructor (MIA or MIC) or British Mountain Guide (UIAGM). Mountain Training officers may also be consulted.

The Book - Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing has been written for people working their way through the climbing schemes and it's packed with colourful diagrams, photographs and simple language. It covers the full spectrum of modern climbing practice including movement skills, knots, bouldering, sport, trad and indoor climbing as well as risk management and problem solving.

Rock Climbing

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OfQual Regulation of Mountain Training England