You dont often see learners from The College of North East London literally climbing the walls, especially not when their lecturers are standing at the bottom encouraging them to go higher. But that is exactly what happened recently when a group from Creative Studies went to The Castle Climbing Centre in Hackney.

At the start of the session, instructors handed out climbing shoes and harnesses as they played a video of people falling off cliffs. The learners looked terrified. Nonetheless, after a few safety tips everyone made their way along the first wall and no-one fell off! Afterwards, Bronwen Jones, a GNVQ Art and Design learner, sat down in a heap and proclaimed, Im so unfit. She was joined seconds later by the other learners and their lecturers who all agreed. After much panting and a bucket full of water, John, one of the instructors, said Right, weve finished the warm up - lets go up stairs to the 30 foot wall.

Arshin Abrahimy, a Creative Studies learner, exclaimed, No way. However, he was coaxed into scaling the higher wall when the group was reassured the ropes were strong enough to string up cars! Half the group climbed whilst the other half belayed (belaying is holding the other end of the safety rope) for them. Of course the learners insisted that the lecturers climbed first.

Then, an instructor arrived with a pile of helmets. Its time to do the abseil, its twice as safe as the climbing you are doing but you need to wear helmets! As the group made their way silently up the 100ft tower, the fear that had left their faces now returned. And even though they all bravely completed the abseil, back on the ground the consensus was that they would not be doing that again! Five minutes later they were back on the climbing walls.

At the end of the session all the learners wanted to go on to attend courses on climbing and abseiling, and left all clutching application forms. Lynne Devey, the event organiser, had arranged the outing to give the learners a new experience and help them trust each other. Jessica Pickard, a staff member, reflected that she thought the learners had indeed learnt a lot about trust and hoped that the experience would help them build relationships in college.

Notes to editors

1. The College of North East London offers a wide range of Creative courses from Sound Engineering to Fine Art. For more information, please telephone the course hotline on 020 8442 3055. Or you can go to
2. The Castle Climbing Centre runs climbing activities for all levels, from beginners to expert. Visit for more information.

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