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Brittish Ski Instructor Sentenced to 200 Days in Jail for Teaching in France

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

According to news sources, Simon Butler was found guilty of not having proper credentials to teach skiing in France. 

 

The French authorities say that Butler is a habitual offender after having been taken to court and fined £10,000 in 2004 and was told to never teach skiing in France again. 

 

Ski instructor Guilty:  Simon Butler is not outside the law

 

This is an interesting case. 

post #2 of 24

Wow!  They really take that seriously over there.

post #3 of 24

hopefully, he'll be out in time for ski season!

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

At first glance I think France needs to lighten up, but after reading several articles on this case and the "habitual offender" claims make me wonder if this guy is a PITA on other levels and (perhaps) an ego driven dude who thinks he's special. 

 

Makes me wonder.....If you need to take a certification to operate a business, why not do it?

 

My gut tells me that there's more to this story......I'm keeping an open mind. 

post #5 of 24
Well, his issue is this speed test came along after he'd been accredited for years. He thinks he should be grandfathered in.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10747514/French-want-to-drive-me-off-the-ski-slopes.html


More on the qualifications. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/features/10660735/Piste-wars-To-call-the-French-system-anti-British-is-ludicrous.html

We've had other discussions where there has been talk that there are PSIA III's who couldn't pass today. This seems geared to prevent that problem.

In my opinion, if he wants to keep teaching and his livelihood depends on it, he takes the test.
post #6 of 24

Not a bad idea for PSIA to introduce a similarly stringent set of criteria. At the very least it would prevent the ski areas from continuing to bilk people seeking lessons by fobbing them off with "instructors" who can barely ski themselves. Of course we would also need a law that requires instructors to be certified in order to teach and we don't. Amazing really.

post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by HardDaysNight View Post

Not a bad idea for PSIA to introduce a similarly stringent set of criteria.
Won't happen. There are some national officers and demo team members who would not pass. Can't have them lose face.
post #8 of 24

French are very protective of their ski instructor privilege.

And their wine.

And cheese.

And women.

And escargot. 

And ...

OTOH Brits feel it is Lord Nelson's time all over again.

post #9 of 24

You have to understand that the UK and France both being members of the EU are supposed to have shared employment entitlement without visas and yet the French impose these often irrelevant and obstructive criteria to prevent instructors working there, criteria which incidentally are not applied in the same way to French Nationals who train through the ESF. This is more about protectionism and less about standards in my opinion.

 

I think the person in question was unwise to practice but if I understand EU law a little bit, should never have faced such draconian sanctions.

 

I am at a loss to understand how the speed test is relevant to the vast majority of ski teachers, who after all will be teaching relative novice skiers. I believe it far more important to be, yes a very good skier with very clear demonstrations, but just as importantly an outstanding communicator who understands the the strengths, weaknesses, fears, objectives etc. of his clients.I find it ironic that having just spent the season in the 3 Valleys, one of the most prestigious areas in France, I witnessed so much complacent and downright poor teaching from ESF instructors. The standards imposed on their own instructors certainly don't ensure good practice.

 

I am not one of those bigoted Brits who are anti French. I love France and have many French friends. My wife and daughter are both French graduates who have worked in the country. It is the bureaucratic nonsense that government departments pedal that I object to, this being a perfect example.

post #10 of 24

I used to hold a UK BASI 1 in the 80s which is the first level. I had friends who were French instructors and they said they stacked the deck when the foreign instructors came to do the speed test,

 

Sending some champion down who would be really going for it to set the time..

 

There has been a campaign to prevent anyone who is not French doing any instruction, guiding or leading. Even 'hosting' a tour of the resort with a tour company jacket on was  banned.

 

Quote:
Simon Butler, the British ski instructor charged with teaching skiing without the proper qualifications, has avoided a jail sentence but has been fined €30,000 by a court in Bonneville, France.

It is the latest chapter in the long and widely-reported on dispute between Butler - who has been taken to court several times regarding holding appropriate teaching qualifications - and the French authorities.

Following the decision in Bonneville on 16 June Butler stated that he will appeal to a higher court, believing that he has the right to teach in France with his current qualification.

However the case hinges on the fact that Butler has not passed the Euro Speed Test, an element of the ISTD Level 4 qualification that is required in order for foreign instructors to work in France, and which was introduced after Butler attained his qualifications. Butler, 51, has run instructional skiing holidays in the French resort of Megève since 1982.

The case has provoked strong opinions on both sides. Some believe that it is a case of French protectionism, while others believe that Butler's actions are potentially detrimental to British ISTD Level 4 instructors who have successfully completed the Euro Speed Test. BASI - Britain's national governing body - has not supported Butler in his appeals.

One thing is for certain, this certainly won't be the last time that this case makes headlines, and while the 16 June rule may not come as a complete surprise, it is likely to further fuel tensions between British skiers and French authorities. Last February a court case was brought against British operator Le Ski, which led to the demise of the long-running ski hosting service operated by many British tour operators in France. This case is currently under appeal, with many awaiting the outcome and the potential consequences for tour operators
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adie View Post

You have to understand that the UK and France both being members of the EU are supposed to have shared employment entitlement without visas and yet the French impose these often irrelevant and obstructive criteria to prevent instructors working there, criteria which incidentally are not applied in the same way to French Nationals who train through the ESF. This is more about protectionism and less about standards in my opinion.

I think the person in question was unwise to practice but if I understand EU law a little bit, should never have faced such draconian sanctions.

I am at a loss to understand how the speed test is relevant to the vast majority of ski teachers, who after all will be teaching relative novice skiers. I believe it far more important to be, yes a very good skier with very clear demonstrations, but just as importantly an outstanding communicator who understands the the strengths, weaknesses, fears, objectives etc. of his clients.I find it ironic that having just spent the season in the 3 Valleys, one of the most prestigious areas in France, I witnessed so much complacent and downright poor teaching from ESF instructors. The standards imposed on their own instructors certainly don't ensure good practice.

I am not one of those bigoted Brits who are anti French. I love France and have many French friends. My wife and daughter are both French graduates who have worked in the country. It is the bureaucratic nonsense that government departments pedal that I object to, this being a perfect example.

The speed test. It isn't relevant to most instructors. Only level 4. Personally I'd have no issue with a race gate component to PSIA L3. They could add basic half pipe as well. If there were a rail test, I'd be screwed though. CSIA has a gate component in their L4 testing as well.

And honestly, does anyone really think the demo team guys wouldnt do fine?

And yes... I do think that local TD's should aggressively address/help longtime L3's that aren't skiing to current standard. There aren't a lot, but they're out there.
post #12 of 24

This is a very complex case with multiple years of politics both on a local and national level in France plus BASI politics being thrown around. There are at least a couple of threads on snowheads about it including a number of people who know Simon personally, happy customers of his operation and Brit Instructors who operate in France.

 

Cliff Notes -

 

This is a regional court not national

 

Reason SB wasn't personally grandfathered in without Eurotest is unclear, cockup, deliberately declined it or BASI deliberate ommission.


Co-incidentally;) Simon runs a very successful chalet company with its own ski school in France (exclusively for customers) and employees other BASI lower level instructors.  Customers are very happy with this, ESF not so much

 

SB is a masters ski racer (was racing in Snowbird this last season) so probably could pass ET if it was the only issue here.

post #13 of 24

I really don't get this, take the euro test (doesn't have to be in france) pass it and be done with it.

Other countries have it as requirement to get into ski instructor school... if you are a good skier you can do it.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post
 

I really don't get this, take the euro test (doesn't have to be in france) pass it and be done with it.

Other countries have it as requirement to get into ski instructor school... if you are a good skier you can do it.

IT's not that simple.  The EU allows workers to cross borders, so the only way to prevent Brits from working in France is to set standards that Brits can't meet.  I think the French ski school clients are mostly English speakers, so Brits have a real advantage.  French instructors are just protecting their turf, and they will persist until an EU court tells them their standards are discriminatory.

I don't understand why that guy went to jail though.  It's hard to believe that there's enough money in ski instruction to risk going to jail over it.  There must be something else going on.

As far as L3's who can't ski the L3 standard, that's me.  I'm not giving it up as long as people still want to ski and train with me. If I have to ski rails and pipes, I'm out.  I'm too old to start that now.

 

BK 

post #15 of 24
Excuse me if you can't ski well enough! Lol
Please... If the French can pass it so can the Brits. Or are you telling me that there's something innate that makes French skiers better?
post #16 of 24

Perhaps it is because they aren't speaking proper French?
 

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

Please... If the French can pass it so can the Brits. Or are you telling me that there's something innate that makes French skiers better?

Obviously the guy who went to jail couldn't pass the test, but it's not just about skiing.  I don't know what the difference between British and French certification is, but I'm pretty sure I could design a test process that was easy for locals but very difficult for Brits, or at least for Brits who haven't lived in the Alps for years.  I suspect that is what they did.  I also wonder why anyone would risk going to jail over that.  Does he have some support somewhere among Brits who want to break the French monopoly?

Jail time for not having the right certifications is pretty harsh.  I knew an optician who went to jail for signing a dead optometrist's name, but that was insurance fraud.  I wonder what's really going on here.   Did he tell clients that he had some license or other special qualifications? Did he avoid paying fees to the French government, or otherwise evade taxes?

 

BK 


Edited by Bode Klammer - 6/21/14 at 7:45am
post #18 of 24

He did not go to jail.

 

He has been fined 30,000 Euros.

 

The time needed for the speed test gets set on the day by a French skier.

 

When they do the foreign instructors the skier is the French slalom champ and he really goes for it.

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

Please... If the French can pass it so can the Brits. Or are you telling me that there's something innate that makes French skiers better?

Obviously the guy who went to jail couldn't pass the test, but it's not just about skiing.  I don't know what the difference between British and French certification is, but I'm pretty sure I could design a test process that was easy for locals but very difficult for Brits, or at least for Brits who haven't lived in the Alps for years.  I suspect that is what they did.  I also wonder why anyone would risk going to jail over that.  Does he have some support somewhere among Brits who want to break the French monopoly?

Jail time for not having the right certifications is pretty harsh.  I knew an optician who went to jail for signing a dead optometrist's name, but that was insurance fraud.  I wonder what's really going on here.   Did he tell clients that he had some license or other special qualifications? Did he avoid paying fees to the French government, or otherwise evade taxes?

 

BK 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
 

He did not go to jail.

 

He has been fined 30,000 Euros.

 

The time needed for the speed test gets set on the day by a French skier.

 

When they do the foreign instructors the skier is the French slalom champ and he really goes for it.

And so what? 
The solution is pretty simple
 

Quote:
 There are four different levels of qualification: BASI Level 4 is the highest level and this is needed to work independently in France.

 

If you can't pass it it's your problem. BTW nobody is forcing you to work in France... 
 

post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

Please... If the French can pass it so can the Brits. Or are you telling me that there's something innate that makes French skiers better?

Obviously the guy who went to jail couldn't pass the test, but it's not just about skiing.  I don't know what the difference between British and French certification is, but I'm pretty sure I could design a test process that was easy for locals but very difficult for Brits, or at least for Brits who haven't lived in the Alps for years.  I suspect that is what they did.  I also wonder why anyone would risk going to jail over that.  Does he have some support somewhere among Brits who want to break the French monopoly?

Jail time for not having the right certifications is pretty harsh.  I knew an optician who went to jail for signing a dead optometrist's name, but that was insurance fraud.  I wonder what's really going on here.   Did he tell clients that he had some license or other special qualifications? Did he avoid paying fees to the French government, or otherwise evade taxes?

 

BK 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
 

He did not go to jail.

 

He has been fined 30,000 Euros.

 

The time needed for the speed test gets set on the day by a French skier.

 

When they do the foreign instructors the skier is the French slalom champ and he really goes for it.

And so what? 
The solution is pretty simple
 

Quote:
 There are four different levels of qualification: BASI Level 4 is the highest level and this is needed to work independently in France.

 

If you can't pass it it's your problem. BTW nobody is forcing you to work in France... 
 

So, everybody should have to pass the SAME standard.  :mad

 

The way it is explained by TQA, french ski instructors have to ski a slalom course within X% of some average skier's, and the Brits trying to pass the test have to ski a slalom course within X% of the French Slalom Champions time.   Your time could be much better than 97 % of the Frenchmen who passed, yet you would fail, because on the day you got tested, they had a ringer set the time.

post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

Please... If the French can pass it so can the Brits. Or are you telling me that there's something innate that makes French skiers better?

Obviously the guy who went to jail couldn't pass the test, but it's not just about skiing.  I don't know what the difference between British and French certification is, but I'm pretty sure I could design a test process that was easy for locals but very difficult for Brits, or at least for Brits who haven't lived in the Alps for years.  I suspect that is what they did.  I also wonder why anyone would risk going to jail over that.  Does he have some support somewhere among Brits who want to break the French monopoly?

Jail time for not having the right certifications is pretty harsh.  I knew an optician who went to jail for signing a dead optometrist's name, but that was insurance fraud.  I wonder what's really going on here.   Did he tell clients that he had some license or other special qualifications? Did he avoid paying fees to the French government, or otherwise evade taxes?

 

BK 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
 

He did not go to jail.

 

He has been fined 30,000 Euros.

 

The time needed for the speed test gets set on the day by a French skier.

 

When they do the foreign instructors the skier is the French slalom champ and he really goes for it.

And so what? 
The solution is pretty simple
 

Quote:
 There are four different levels of qualification: BASI Level 4 is the highest level and this is needed to work independently in France.

 

If you can't pass it it's your problem. BTW nobody is forcing you to work in France... 
 

So, everybody should have to pass the SAME standard.  :mad

 

The way it is explained by TQA, french ski instructors have to ski a slalom course within X% of some average skier's, and the Brits trying to pass the test have to ski a slalom course within X% of the French Slalom Champions time.   Your time could be much better than 97 % of the Frenchmen who passed, yet you would fail, because on the day you got tested, they had a ringer set the time.

Anybody know what the percentage of the time is?

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post
 

And so what? 
The solution is pretty simple
 

Quote:
 There are four different levels of qualification: BASI Level 4 is the highest level and this is needed to work independently in France.

 

If you can't pass it it's your problem. BTW nobody is forcing you to work in France... 
 

So, everybody should have to pass the SAME standard.  :mad

 

The way it is explained by TQA, french ski instructors have to ski a slalom course within X% of some average skier's, and the Brits trying to pass the test have to ski a slalom course within X% of the French Slalom Champions time.   Your time could be much better than 97 % of the Frenchmen who passed, yet you would fail, because on the day you got tested, they had a ringer set the time.

You are not paying attention...

NO ONE is forcing you to take the tech test IN France. You HAVE TO ONLY if you are a L2 BASI (in this case) or equivalent. 
If YOU want to teach in France WITHOUT taking their tech test you CAN. The only require that you meet the ISIA minimum standard. (not an absurd request really)
In order to do that Mr Butler can take his skis back home and achieve the highest Level cert offered by BASI (L4) as explained here:

 

Quote:
 
  1. Snow sports instructors with the highest national training from the following countries already meet the ISIA minimum standard for the ISIA card:

    Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Great Bri- tain, Italy, Holland, Spain, Switzerland. 

Once he gets his ISIA badge he can teach all over France.

post #23 of 24

The interesting thing about ISIA cert is the foreign language requirement. I think it's fine, especially for the Euro market. Just curious how many in the US can teach/communicate effectively in a second language? I wonder if that has something to do with the whole kerfluffle.

post #24 of 24

This thread where a test was paceset by an Olympic Bronze Medalist (thanks Proctor & Gamble:rolleyes) indicates within 18% of average pacesetters.  No one passed out of about 20.

 

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2243047&highlight=eurotest#2243047

 

 

The most interesting thing about Simon Butler is the fact he should have been ET exempt and grandfathered - somehow he wasn't and he doesn't think he should have to jump through the hoop.  Murky politics is my suspicion with BASI.

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