Swansea teacher sacked after taking pupils sledging
- 11 January 2011
- From the section Wales
A teacher was sacked after bringing a sledge into school and allowing two pupils to ride on it, a disciplinary hearing has heard.
Design teacher Richard Tremelling said he took it to Cefn Hengoed Community School, Swansea, in February 2009 as an example of "classic design".
He was dismissed for failing to follow the school's health and safety policy.
The General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) committee found him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
He was reprimanded by the professional conduct committee, who found four charges proven.
These included allowing the pupils to go sledging and ignoring cautionary words of warning from colleagues.
The hearing heard that two boys on Mr Tremelling's GCSE design and technology course asked to try out the sledge at the end of the lesson, and he took them sledging on the snow-covered school grounds.
Mr Tremelling was initially suspended pending an inquiry, accused of failing to consult the head teacher, or writing to the school governors, before setting off.
While he maintained he risk-assessed the activity before it began, he was told he should have done it in writing.
Mr Tremelling is accused of nine separate breaches, amounting to an alleged failure in his duty of care to pupils.
Appearing before a professional conduct committee on Monday, he argued that the sledging session was a logical extension of a lesson.
Mr Tremelling said his own risk assessment had been sufficient and that a written assessment had been unnecessary.
"I did not go sledding on a cheap Asda £10 sledge," Mr Tremelling told the committee. "I went on a Scandinavian classic design sledge which has built-in safety features, and also a brake."
He agreed that neither of the pupils involved had worn protective masks but said he did not believe they were necessary.
The sledge in question was a Scandinavian "snow racer" which was an "exceedingly stable sledge", Mr Tremelling told the hearing.
"Given that it was not over hard ground but grass, I did not deem that head gear was necessary."
Because riders sit upright on the sledge he did not think knee or elbow pads were necessary either.
The hearing heard that school policy stated that written permission was needed for any outside activity or visit.
But Mr Tremelling said that did not regard the sledging as either an official activity because it was within school, or a visit out of school.
An independent assessment had later been made of the sledging which concluded "no significant risk" was presented by Mr Tremelling's actions.
Mr Tremelling said the sledge, while appropriate for the weather, was also made of wood, metal and plastic, which was rare in itself and useful for teaching purposes.
The GTCW's professional conduct committee hearing in Cardiff found him guilty of four out of nine charges.
He was cleared of five charges, including that there was no risk assement, there was no parental consent and health and safety guidelines were not followed.
Mr Tremelling does not work currently as a teacher but is an officer in the Territorial Army.
The committee ruled he can remain a teacher and his reprimand will be removed after two years.
A spokesperson for Cefn Hengoed Community School said the purpose of the hearing had been to consider Mr Tremelling's professional registration and not to question the governing body's decision to dismiss him.
"Mr Tremelling has received a reprimand that will stay on his record for two years and the school would now like to draw a line under this long-standing matter," said the spokesperson.
"Clearly the decision to dismiss Mr Tremelling was the right one given the circumstances and his disciplinary record."