Graham Little - Climbing Wall Development Instructor

Graham Little

What do you do for work?

I work as Head of Outdoor Learning at a large primary school in Lancashire and also run my own outdoor company 'Graham Little Outdoors'. A lot of my work involves climbing (indoors and outdoors), but I am also involved in delivering walking, paddlesports, ghyll scrambling, via ferrata, and orienteering. My work is a good balance of working with children and adults. Very recently I have been working for the BBC and presenter Helen Skelton as part of a documentary to be aired on BBC2.

Have you always worked in the outdoor industry?

I have always been involved in outdoor education, but prior to my current roles, I worked in secondary education for 10 years.

When did you first get in to ‘the outdoors’?

I have always loved being outdoors from an early age, whether that was in the hills, cycling or playing rugby.

TV presenter Helen Skelton filming with Graham Little

When did you start pursuing Mountain Training qualifications and why?

I started pursuing Mountain Training qualifications when I worked in a secondary school so that I could run a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award group, and this led to me doing other outdoor qualifications.


Most recently you’ve gained the Climbing Wall Development Instructor qualification, why did you decide to add this qualification to your repertoire?

I already held the Climbing Wall Instructor, Abseil Module, Rock Climbing Instructor and Foundation Coach so I felt also gaining Climbing Wall Development Instructor was the next logical step. Being able to teach lead climbing is a good skill to have and has led to some rewarding work with climbers looking to progress.


What were the best and most challenging things about working through the scheme?

Both training and assessment were delivered excellently (Dan McKinlay and Rob Pugh) and I learned lots on both parts of the scheme. It can be quite challenging preparing for assessment; observing other instructors' sessions, ensuring your climbing is good enough, falling with confidence...


What advice would you give to other people thinking about starting the Climbing Wall Development Instructor scheme?

My advice to anyone else considering Climbing Wall Development Instructor is 'go for it'! Get out climbing, make sure you are climbing confidently at 6a and are not afraid to try and push the limit you climb at and have a bit of 'air time'... If you're not flying, you're not trying! Also, go and watch a good number of leading sessions and see how others are teaching leading.

Time lapse photo of Graham Little bouldering

If you only had 24 hours for an adventure, where would you go and why?

Knoydart. Wild. Remote. Beautiful.


Have you ever been involved in mentoring aspiring instructors?

I have been involved in mentoring several aspirant Climbing Wall Instructor in schools I have been working with. This has been through lead climbing training, coaching, and supporting them getting experience with novice groups. One of the school staff, MTA member Karen Martin, successfully passed her Climbing Wall Instructor and Abseil Module a few years ago and quite quickly gained work within outdoor education. Sadly Karen was recently diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease and is now unable to instruct/climb due to her illness.

Karen is now wheelchair bound and her friends and family are raising money to have essential adjustments made to her home. Her friend has set up a Just Giving page if anyone would like to help out.


What do you find useful about being a member of the Mountain Training Association?

As someone who works independently a lot of the time, it is good to be part of MTA for guidance, the ability to ask other members questions via the forum, being listed on the Find a Leader page for potential work and to be able to access training/conferences.