Doubts over ski firm's claims

26th September 2003 at 01:00
British teachers leading school ski trips abroad are being offered ski clinics and courses by a firm that has been disowned by three national snowsport bodies.

The Association for the Development and Education in Ski Training (Adest) was set up by Graham and Yvonne Nugent at their home in Scotland. Mr Nugent said Adest aims to "improve standards in snowsport teaching. We see a need with schools and colleges - particularly when staff don't know what they are doing."

Mr Nugent offers clinics in Scotland and says they can lead to ski instructor qualifications. "All courses will take place in Germany," he said.

The courses he promotes are run by the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), a reputable firm offering ski coaching in the States. Mr Nugent has a PSIA qualification and PSIA has a German operation that aims courses at the large US military presence there. But PSIA said that Mr Nugent has no connection with its organisation except as an individual member.

"He is not authorised to make claims on behalf of PSIA," said its president John Armstrong.

The case shows the problems teachers face when organising trips abroad.

Teachers using activity centres in the UK are supported by the Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). Outside the UK, skiing is often unregulated. Some resorts insist that those working on nursery slopes hold full instructors' qualifications validated by the International Ski Instructors Association. Some school tour operators provide morning tuition only, and allow "experienced" teachers to coach groups in the afternoon.

But few instructors see this as good practice.

An intermediate qualification is available for teachers through the English Ski Council (ESC) and the Scottish equivalent, Snowsport Scotland. But these are ski leaders' courses rather than instructors' qualifications, says ESC's Alan Ashfield. "For that you need a British Association of Ski Instructors (Basi) qualification," he said.

Mr Nugent held a mid-level Basi qualification, but his membership lapsed some time ago, and neither his Basi qualification nor his current mid-level PSIA qualification qualifies him to train instructors. The TES understands that Mrs Nugent failed the Basi assessment several times.

Mr Nugent said his activities were being run "in conjunction with Snowsport Scotland." But Bruce Crawford, Snowsport Scotland's chief executive, said:

"He (Mr Nugent) has not spoken to me at all. I've never met him."

Mrs Nugent says that there is a whispering campaign against her and her husband. Basi is working to "an agenda" against them, she says.

Government advice on school visits gives Basi and the English Ski Council as the appropriate governing bodies for skiing.

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