Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's a slippery slope

I know that I am guilty of banging on and on about the differences between life in Britain and life in Germany and I am also guilty of pointing out the negatives (as I see them) here, I do try to point out the positives too but I am clearly not yet unbiased enough...anyway here's a little story highlighting exactly how different matters can be:

The week before Christmas (or maybe it was the week before the week before Christmas) we'd had a ton of snow, a veritable shed load and the telephone tree for Jasmine's class sprang into action late one evening (after 8pm, very late for Germans, who normally wont stir themselves afer such an antisocial time) I was to take note and pass the message on that each child should wear appropriate clothing and take their sledge into school the following morning as they were going to spend second and third lessons in the snow*. Message duly noted and passed on to the next branch on my tree, I also then rang my English friend (who taught primary children before moving to Germany) with a child in the same class, and we discussed the possibility that someone could quite easily be spending part of the following day at the local A&E department, but maybe, just maybe the kids were only going to be sledging in the school grounds (it has at least 2 decent enough slopes for that age group (8-10 yr olds) and hopefully it wouldn't be just the one adult and 34 children...

Interrogation of child after the event showed that the class of 34 went with their teacher, Herr B, and 1 mom, into the woods onto the path that, whilst wide enough for a vehicle to pass down also has trees (big, old, solid trees these, not young little whippy, soft saplings) on either side, at least one bend and a drop at the end that is severe enough to warrant a hand rail (that a child on a sledge would shoot straight under). I'm so glad I found out these details afterwards, ignorance is bliss don't you find?

Compare that event to this week in the British press, here in the Mail and here and also in the Telegraph where the life of a design and technology head of department has been pretty much wrecked by the health and safety regulations which saw him lose his job in June 2009 following a day in February that year where he and 2 pupils took his 30 year old 'design classic' of a sledge down a snow covered slope. His mistake was failing to fill out the necessary health and safety forms required by the education system and not ensuring that the children were wearing protective clothing and head gear (he also chose to disregard the head's advice 2 days prior about keeping the children off the snowy slopes).
Mr Tremelling's 2 day hearing this week ended with a reprimand that will stay on his record for 2 years but will not prevent him from teaching again.
I dread to think what his punishment would have been had he taken 30 pupils, each with their own sledge out into the snow.

Told you life was different here!

* You can tell what an affluent area we live in, it is assumed that each child will have padded winter trousers, winter boots (and this doesn't mean boots that are worn in winter, this means boots that are fleecey lined and waterproof with grippy soles that would shame a mountain goat) and a sledge.

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