A slippery slope

The troubling case of Richard Tremelling , the transgressive toboganning teacher, should prompt further dismissals.

Mr Tremelling was sacked as head of technology at Cefn Hengoed Community School in Swansea, South Wales last February after he brought a sledge to school and allowed two Year 11 pupils to ride it down a hill. Having discussed the manufacture and use of the racing sledge during a revision class, he agreed to demonstrate it to interested pupils after school. “I thought of using it as an appropriate example of design technology with my GCSE class,” he told a disciplinary hearing yesterday. “I told the first boy to follow the track marks that I’d laid out – which he did in a safe manner. I wanted to demonstrate sledge control so I moved to a different slope. I went first, turning at the bottom of the slope. It was a bit fast so I was not happy for the child to go from the top. He started from half way down the slope and completed the turn correctly. The whole process took less than 10 minutes and I was sure it reinforced their knowledge.”

Neither pupil was harmed. Mr Tremelling, who could be struck off the teachers’ register, was sacked for failing to get authorisation from the head teacher, failing to carry out appropriate risk assessments and failing to ensure that the pupils were wearing protective clothing and headgear. He denies unacceptable professional conduct.

So, further dismissals? Well, I’d start with the head teacher. Pedantic adherence to inappropriately risk-averse health and safety regulations has nibbled away at our more innovative teachers for some time now. In this case, the head teacher chewed off a big chunk of Mr Tremelling’s resourcefulness and spat it out in his face.

The chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) would have to go as well. This case should never have been accepted for a disciplinary hearing. The GTCW is currently the only teaching council in the UK and Ireland with disciplinary responsibilities that does not have a code setting out standards for the regulation of the profession. It therefore could have exercised a degree of discretion.

Until head teachers and their superiors are prepared to take a more common sense approach when it comes to outlining what is expected from teachers, we are all on a slippery slope.

Oh, and I’d reinstate Mr Tremelling.

About thespeedofdark

David Winship has written an unauthorised autobiography and several critically disdained literary tomes. His work is frequently compared with Steinbeck, Orwell and Hemingway, but unfortunately Mike Steinbeck, Daisy Orwell and Howard Hemingway were all terrible writers. He has been totally overlooked for the most prestigious literary awards worldwide, which is a shame as most of the words are spelled correctly. In fact, his books contain material that ranks with the finest literary works in history: all the right letters are there, just not necessarily in the right order.

Dave’s blog (The Speed Of Dark Blog) is part of his crusade for truth and justice and universal entitlement to free real ale. It may well be that his whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

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