Not too sick to take ski job

Andrew Wakefield

GTC reprimands teacher for working at Austrian resort while absent with stress. Andrew Wakefield reports.

A teacher who worked as a ski rep in Austria, and as an examiner, marking 345 GCSE papers, while he claimed to be ill has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by England's General Teaching Council.

Donald Wilmott, who worked at Lakers secondary, Coleford, Gloucester, was absent from the school between October 2002 and July 2003, claiming to be suffering stress, poor sleep and tiredness relating to work and depression.

But the GTC hearing in Birmingham this week was told that during the period he was away, in April 2003, he was employed as a rep with the firm Travel Class Ltd and spent a week out of the country with pupils from another school at the St Johann resort in Tirol.

Mr Wilmott, who was not present or represented at the hearing, was also employed by the AQA exams board during May and June that year, and earned a total of pound;655 for marking exam scripts.

The GTC said he could carry on teaching but issued him with a formal reprimand to remain on his permanent record for two years.

The panel said although it felt Mr Wilmott was not likely to repeat his actions his behaviour did not meet standards of integrity. It found him guilty of taking on the extra work while off sick and failing to notify his head teacher.

Judy Moorhouse, chairman of the GTC hearing, said: "Mr Wilmott's hehaviour undermined public confidence in the profession and the standards of conduct expected of a registered teacher."

Alison Elliott, head of Lakers school, told the hearing that when she was told he was taking on extra work while off sick, she wrote to him demanding a meeting. She said: "It was wholly unacceptable to undertake additional work while off sick."

Mr Wilmott did not attend the meeting, but sent a union representative and resigned in August 2003, saying in a letter: "Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused by my actions. These were through ignorance and not deliberate misconduct."

Ms Elliott accepted Mr Wilmott's explanation but said he had breached standards of propriety. She said that Mr Wilmott had taken on the ski rep job while the school would have been on Easter holidays.

"I accept this seems to have been undertaken entirely in his own time," she said.

Mr Wilmott had been teaching at the school, which has 800 pupils aged between 11 and 16, since 1985.

Helen Smith, presenting officer, told the GTC: "Mr Wilmott has responded and does not appear to dispute the allegations in this case."

"He thought the ski-ing trip would help him relax and he thought it would be unprofessional to not fulfill his obligation to the exams board.

"He appears to be saying it is highly unlikely he will ever return to teaching."

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Andrew Wakefield

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