Teacher rapped over school trip

A TEACHER who took Suffolk pupils on a white water rafting holiday with no insurance and against the wishes of his headteacher has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

Russell Claydon

A TEACHER who took Suffolk pupils on a white water rafting holiday with no insurance and against the wishes of his headteacher has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) ruled Christopher Cooper, a former teacher at Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge, had made a catalogue of errors when undertaking the trip.

As well as not having any insurance on the potentially dangerous activity holiday, he also ignored his headteacher's advice and went with an adult who had not had a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.


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He has now been banned from organising any educational visit until he has completed a course on the legal and procedural requirements for school trips.

And for the next five years he must also provide his current and any prospective employer with a copy of the GTC decision.

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Last night, Suffolk County Council welcomed the GTC's ruling.

A spokeswoman said: “The matter was dealt with promptly by the school at the time. The proper procedures were applied and it was referred to the GTC in line with requirements.

“We take the safety of school pupils very seriously. The GTC's decision reinforces the importance of following school procedures when organising school trips.”

Mr Cooper taught leisure and tourism at Farlingaye for two years but has since resigned.

The GTC decision, published yesterday, stated: “He took pupils on a white water rafting trip on April 2, 2007 despite instructions from the headteacher not to, without following school procedures for the organisation of a school trip, without insurance cover and with a non-CRB checked adult accompanying the pupils.”

He had also continued to allow sixth formers to be present in a classroom while he was teaching other year groups - despite being directed not to allow the practise to continue.

Last night, Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Clearly it is important when going on trips you get adequate insurance and a risk assessment.

“At the end of the day you are responsible for the pupils and this has led to a number of staff deciding not to do school trips.”

Mr White, who represents teachers on disciplinary hearings, said he was not aware of this particular case but added: “It is good practice if you are going on any school trip to make sure individuals are CRB checked and white water rafting would be deemed a very risky activity.

“At the end of the day if the headteacher gives you instructions if you like it or not you have to follow those instructions.”

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