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Bad experience with kids ski school ( ESF) on a Clubmed holida

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Pending, thatís great to hear. Was this with Clubmed? So you went to a different resort the next year and booked him in the level your thought he should have been? And the following year you went to the original resort and booked him for the next level - 3 star, was it? Did you have any trouble with ESF arranging that and also how old was your son?
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@Bella2015, when my kids did ESF we had some good and some mediocre experiences. One of them failed his 2 star (maybe) as he didn't understand the instruction he was given during the ski test. I think we still put him in 3 star next winter with his brother.
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Have to say was a bit surprised when I saw your child was in 1st star on only his third Ski trip? That is a big jump up for a child of that age. We have always had fantastic service from our local ESF in Les Carroz. They teach a certain style and we like it. Our children also appreciated it when children who did not listen or were disruptive were moved. I now see that your son has additional needs, so maybe you need to consider getting to resort a day or so early? If he has additional needs then is it worth considering private lesson to bed-in and learn the ropes before heading into what are necessarily very structured lessons? As others have said ESF teaches a certain way based on the local cultural norms. If that does not suit your child, then a different approach is probably required for that child.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Mon 1-01-18 11:51; edited 1 time in total
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@Cheesie168, Dunno -- our son started at age 6 (1 week per year) and was able to skip 2eme etoile (was in 1 star, but he made so much progress that instructor let him take 3eme etoile test), so after 6 years of ESF lessons he has his gold star. It's very much down to the motivation and athleticism of the child, as well as the attentiveness of the instructor.

As I mentioned, ESF has a method, and it's not for everyone, and I think not for those who aren't French or don't speak French. I wouldn't bash ESF but rather think hard before you enroll your children or yourself in lessons with them.

There are 10s of millions of competent French skiers who went through the ESF -- not to mention WC champions -- so the method does in fact work...
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NickyJ wrote:
Bella2015 wrote:
@NickyJ, clubmed do good discounts when they first release their holidays.

I have been looking at the Spring family bash too and trying to convince my other half that a second ski holiday would be great for boosting my sons confidence.. but he is not so easily convinced...


Admin is looking at getting an instructor where we can book some private lessons with them. My youngest (8yrs) could use some more lessons but doesnít get on well in groups due to being on autistic spectrum and dyspraxic so I hope to book her a couple of 1hr or so lessons. I think you are right it would be great to improve his confidence and being with other British similar age children.


Iíve probably skied my last bash, but I have been to many hugely enjoyable ones - and taken ski lessons. Without exception, I have been impressed by the instructors admin has arranged. I expect you will be for your childís, too.

Getting back to the OP. If you or your family are getting poor instruction, think about going to another ski school. I appreciate that instruction is part of the Ski Med deal, and so youíd be paying extra, but if you can afford it then you may have a solution. You need to get the best you can for your family whilst enjoying precious time in the Alps.
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@Pasigal, yes, I agree it does work. Ours were gold star by 9 years old. They don't speak much French, but they do go every Xmas and Easter. They had to take the gold star class 3 times to pass, and we think that was right. The instructors told us why and we accepted it. We like the ESF style, and were pleased they did not juts hand out the badges for attending. It's important that they can cope with varied conditions and are not just be passed for playing follow-the-leader.[url][/url]
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@Cheesie168, when I spoke to ESF they said that generally kids should move one level each year if they ski one week a year in the first few levels, but once they get past 1-2 stars levels it may take more than once in each level. So my son was in Ourson two years ago, last year we didnít do but he did well in the level equivalent to Flocon with Evo 2 so should have been 1 star this year.
I think I will try to get him some lessons here before next holiday though .. and try to get to resort a day early too ( but this is not always possible)
@achilles, I will see how things work out next time, not sure if I will do Clubmed or not ( depends also on other families who we ski with) but if we do and problems arise again, will for another ski school... kind of did this for my youngest this year as he was just under 4 and not ready for ESF / CM mini club just yet but luckily we had a great ski nursery just opposite Clubmed.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
We had a bad time with ESF a couple of years ago in Montchavin. On his first ever lesson on snow, my 8 year old son (who has mild ADHD) was hit over the head with a ski stick and called an idiot by his instructor, so we use Evo 2 now, and they're miles better. Wouldn't touch ESF if they were the last ski school in the world.
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We had a bad time with ESF a couple of years ago in Montchavin. On his first ever lesson on snow, my 8 year old son was hit over the head with a ski stick and called an idiot by his instructor, so we use Evo 2 now, and they're miles better. Wouldn't touch ESF if they were the last ski school in the world.
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@Otherworld, that sounds absolutely terrible!!!! Unbelievable... I hope you complained about that instructor, he should not be allowed to work with kids!
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Yep, it was awful. Apparently, according to some of the other kids in the group, this instructor was picking on my son all the way through the lesson, encouraging the other kids to laugh at him when he fell over. I had a very lively discussion with her next morning, before heading straight to the Evo 2 offices to find an alternative.

Yes, we complained to the ESF director, who wasn't in the least bit interested in what had happened.
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@Otherworld, shocking! Glad you had a better experience with Evo 2.. they were also better with my son.
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We've had both good and indifferent experiences using ESF through Esprit. My observations is that they work well for some kids and not so well for others. They definitely favour the kids who are engaged, listening and perform well.

Last year my son, who was 4 at the time, was moved up the first morning from "beginners" to "improvers" because he had already skied 1week at 3yrs old and skied a lot of time indoors in the UK. He is very competitive and was always the kid wanting to be behind the instructor like a shadow, following their every move. The instructors loved this and had the pet name "champion" for him, which engaged him even more. At the end of the week he ended up with his 1star, having acheived piou piou the previous year, missing out two levels in between.

The previous year my daughter (6 at the time), who is much more shy and happy to let the other kids go first, suffered the opposite. On the second day her group was split and she was asked to follow the first group. She got confused, didn't follow them and stopped at the lift, rather than carrying on with the rest of them. The second group came down and joined her and she was with that group, stuck on the same beginner run for the rest of that and the whole of the next day. After this time I complained (the previous year in the same resort with a different ski school she was skiing all over). Her confidence was knocked and she wasn't enjoying it. The concern from ESF was although she was technically good enough, the other kids were faster and they were worried she would hold them up. She was moved into the other half of the group and had a ball for the final 2 days with the faster group, kept up with them and went all sort of places. She ended up with her 1 star that year too, so the outcome was perfect.

Teaching kids myself every Sunday in a fridge, I can understand the ESF way of thinking. Kids that are disengaged or disruptive really ruin it for the others who want to be there to improve. Some kids no matter how much focus you give them just can't be bothered, others respond to additional focus but this is then unfair to the rest of the group. If you are prepared for the way ESF teach, it can really work well, but you do need to understand that culturally it is very different to how things are done by the British.

If my child had any kind of additional needs, I would definitely consider private lessons. The child will be much happier, and happy children equates to happy instructors and happy parents.
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Our kids have had good experiences with ESF, primarily via Esprit. The key from their perspective was the language. Esprit lessons aren't cheap and I understand that they pay a premium to have instructors who speak good English. (To the extent that they can do a bit of banter with the kids and parents.) And obviously all the kids in Esprit lessons are English, so the chit chat is in English too. We had a bad experience when the kids were 6/7 with mixed language groups (not with ESF) and they were both a bit overwhelmed and didn't respond well.

We used ESF on a non-Esprit trip in Montgenevre 3 years ago. Although there were only 2 English kids in each of their groups (6 Frenchies) by that age (13/12) they were able to cope quite happily with the chit-chat being primarily in French. The much maligned ESF even dished out a gold star to younger daughter despite her failing the speed test. (Didier the instructor went on bended knee to the ESF Patron to beg for benevolence!)

We've been lucky in that both kids are naturally athletic and respond very quickly to any kind of physical tuition.

I have to say that I quite like the brutal aspect to ESF where they promote and demote kids as they see fit. Though I would say this as given comments about the kids' athleticism, they've never been demoted, unlike their Dad!!
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We've had three good years with ESF teaching our boys to ski with Esprit. Per earlier posts, 8 per class (or less) AND an Esprit SnowRanger on hand to keep them together, pick up stragglers, keep motivation high. I can't say that we've had any complaints. Our boys learn in different ways - elder son is 'on the spectrum' with signs of dysbraxia, which resulted with him getting 1 star (again) this year, whilst his younger brother went up to 2. It hadn't occurred to me in the slightest that this might be a symptom of the lessons or ESF. More that my son learns physical techniques at a different rate to others and has a rather care-free/"away with the fairies" approach at times.
(give him a book thou and he will be done before you'd believe, yet can still recite large chunks of it off pat)

He loves skiing thou, and is faster/more gung-ho then his younger brother - his technique leaves a little to be desired thou.

@FastCarver74, I am surprised your daughter got split in her group - I can imagine the ESF instructor not really noticing (?), but would've thought the Esprit Snowranger (acknowledging they are just post-teenagers...) would have picked her up.

That has been the major selling point for me - knowing that they have a second pair of eyes acting as back-marker to pick up waifs and strays. Note to self... it's not infallible.
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Interesting comments about demotion. We have requested my daughter be ďdemotedĒ when we were in St Anton (and had a bit of and argument with Esprit over this) my daughter wasnít happy as the group was moving at too fast a pace for her and that was spoiling her enjoyment. They convinced us to give it one more day which was agreed (I really shouldnít have), they passed us on the second day and Ellie was in the back seat because of losing confidence the group kept waiting for her then moving off as soon as she caught up. We insisted that afternoon they move her down a group. Where she was technically much better than the group but was much happier and got some of her confidence back. The issue was the in St Anton Esprit didnít have an advanced group so the the other children who were really ready for advanced were booked in an intermediates.
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Poor experience with ESF through Mark Warner in Les Deux Alpes - my son got lost and he got the same level badge he's got the in previous years' holidays from Oxygene/Evo2. At Christmas this year we used Evo2 in Arc1800 - there were only three children in the group my 8 year old son and 2 French children. The instructor repeated everything in English for my son and he progressed really well - we could visibility see the difference each day in both his technique and confidence. At the end of the week he got his Yeti 3 badge.
Off to La Plagne in March, one of the reason for choosing this resort is Oxygene, who we've used three time before and had good experiences with.
Always amazed that the instructors from any ski school set a bad example to the Kids and never wear a helmet. As a cycling coach I'm expected to set a good example and always wear one!
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
French educational culture is very different to British- far more like the traditional sit in single desk and take dictation that Gove harked back to than the modern group based, must be engaging English style. They also repeat years and have a general thing about competitive exams for pretty well everything... so it's quite an alien culture in a lot of ways.

I have a future dilemma with my now 2 year old... I want her to speak French from early on - work in progress at the moment - do I chuck her in a french ESF class when she's 4 and just started school or do I find a mixed smaller group class somehow... think our "don't be wet" parenting style might fit the ESF approach allowing us to have more money for our lessons!
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We've mainly used private instructors which I appreciate is an expensive privilege - it works out about 3x the cost, but I'm convinced that the kids learn so much faster that it's actually (man maths alert) more economical, and I make up for it by driving a knackered old car and not drinking much! You get the instructor you want, when you want them, teaching (to an extent) what you ask them to. As a consequence (see the kids skiing powder thread!), even at ages 7 & 10 we can take our kids almost anywhere on the mountain, piste or off piste which makes for a great family holiday.

My personal experience is ESF >> Evo 2, but I think the brands are actually quite meaningless, it's much more down to the local team's philosophy and the individual that you get.

@MelH, Several instructors have given me the same view on helmets - they impede your hearing, and listening to the skis is an important part of understanding how your pupils are skiing. That said, I'm seeing more and more wearing them now - probably 25% where we are.
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One data point on private vs group lessons. We paid a total of 500 euros for our two kids for 6 hours of private ESF lessons at Valloire. They each went up a level. That's the same price as 6 days of group ESF lessons minus all the pre-lesson hassle and group dynamics. Only drawback is the 12-2 time slot, but it means the kids skied when the slopes were least crowded and got more runs in!
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Bella2015 wrote:
Ok thanks for their comments and opinions everyone.. my point was that my son had one bad morning and was clearly good enough for the 1 star level and also did not misbehave again on subsequent days a - so in this case the ESF instructor just would not let him have another chance...this I think is more than just a bit harsh...


The instructors are there to teach & judge on ability.
Just because your words say he had a bad morning because he was bored is only one side of the story.
If he was playing up, or not skiiing to the best of his ability, then that means he is affecting the rest of the ski group.
So its better to deal with one unhappy child parents, than the other 11.
Did you witness his first lesson? or is it a simple case of parents can see no wrong in their childs behaviour?

Good on the ski school for sorting out the bad apple IMO.
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MelH wrote:
.....
Off to La Plagne in March, one of the reason for choosing this resort is Oxygene...


Oh yes...
http://youtube.com/v/5DDEl7JnWvo
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
MelH wrote:
Always amazed that the instructors from any ski school set a bad example to the Kids and never wear a helmet. As a cycling coach I'm expected to set a good example and always wear one!

Neither me or the wife wear a helmet. Kids always have. They've never questioned it.
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@Bella2015, Just interested in your perspective here, is your angst the fact he was moved down, or the fact they they weren't confident or comfortable in telling you that he wasn't good enough to be in the top group (in their view)?

If he misbehaved and the instructor was not comfortable taking him in her group, then i guess that's her call, she's the 'responsible adult' right? Just curious?
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@Bella2015, Bella - I sent your post to my friend in Crans Montana who runs an independent ski school. He was appalled, really appalled. Drop me a text on 0770 250 5256 or ring and Yves would like to offer some free tuition to your family to show how it should be done. His school runs groups of no more than 5, for the same price as official schools running groups of 10+ - our kids were taught by his coaches, from the age of 2 and a half, and not only love skiing but have reached an amazing level of competence.
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valais2 wrote:
@Bella2015, Bella - I sent your post to my friend in Crans Montana who runs an independent ski school. He was appalled, really appalled. Drop me a text on ---- -------- or ring and Yves would like to offer some free tuition to your family to show how it should be done.

One heck of a generous offer from your friend there @valais2; remarkable how snowHeads try to help each other out.
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I think I'm right is saying that ESF instructors for kids lessons, don't have to be fully qualified, just part way into their 5 years training. I could be talking nonsense though
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HossDoc wrote:
valais2 wrote:
@Bella2015, Bella - I sent your post to my friend in Crans Montana who runs an independent ski school. He was appalled, really appalled. Drop me a text on ---- -------- or ring and Yves would like to offer some free tuition to your family to show how it should be done.

One heck of a generous offer from your friend there @valais2; remarkable how snowHeads try to help each other out.
+1
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You know it makes sense.
genepi wrote:
I think I'm right is saying that ESF instructors for kids lessons, don't have to be fully qualified, just part way into their 5 years training. I could be talking nonsense though
Not 100% sure, but Club Med will use trainees (Stagieres) for some of their lessons (in much the same way as typical ESF schools will). Not sure of the proportion of Stagieres to Full Certs for a typical week of Club Med lessons. Not that I think that in itself guarantees much: you can have a Stagiere with a passion for teaching who goes the extra kilometre to ensure everyone in her class is happy and making good progress; at the same time as the surly Full Cert who has been phoning it in for the last decade.
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HossDoc wrote:
valais2 wrote:
@Bella2015, Bella - I sent your post to my friend in Crans Montana who runs an independent ski school. He was appalled, really appalled. Drop me a text on ---- -------- or ring and Yves would like to offer some free tuition to your family to show how it should be done.

One heck of a generous offer from your friend there @valais2; remarkable how snowHeads try to help each other out.

Indeed. At the same time ESF (and perhaps Club Med) get their reputation a little dented for some people who have read this thread. Reputations: hard to win, easy to lose.
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If we look at the acknowledged "facts":
OP thought both kids were 1* level at the start.

ESF disagreed:
- allocated one child into 3*, where she appeared to thrive despite only having the Evo 2 equivalent of a Flocon badge.
- allocated another child (after a failed trial in 1*) to Flocon, where OP admits child had a good time and enjoyed the holiday.

Strikes me that ESF was reasonably accurate, albeit could have handled the communication with the parents much better. Was there too much parental weighting attached to the pre-existing badges?

I've watched my kids work through every ESF badge and some of the Evo 2 ones, and I am incapable of judging progression vs regression over a short timeframe like a week.
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Hi all - had a busy day , so just catching up on this thread..

@valais2, thank you so much for your/ your friends amazing offer! will definitely give you a call!

@Levi215, my main issue is of course how ESF has handled the situation... I do think that they should have given my son another chance but this is not main thing. At the very least they could have been honest about their intention not to move him to 1 star and that would have given me an opportunity to seek an alternative solution (like getting him some private lessons).. instead I was led to believe that they were about to move him each time I spoke to them and by the time I realised that it was never going to be the case the time was lost. Also the fact that the ESF head was so rude to my husband is totally unacceptable, I think.
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@genepi, @rob@rar - I am not sure any of the CM instructor we came across this holiday were trainees judging by their age..
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@snowdave, so you donít think itís odd if two kids skied together for a three years and a in their second year, one child progressed one level higher than the other, while in the third year the child who was a level above in the second year, ended up four (!) levels below his friend?
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@Bella2015, nope, not remotely. Kids progress at very different rates and handle different conditions (change of environment, country, social group etc.) very differently. Next year it could all reverse.

You're also using badges as the sole measure of progress. It may be that in different environments, your son would perform better (or his friend worse); I think much of the thrust of the suggestions on here including some of my own is to help you figure out what those environments might be.

You were clear earlier that his friend was in the right level, kept up and enjoyed her group. 3* is reasonably challenging, so she must be a very capable young skier to have gone from Flocon to 3* so easily.
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@Bella2015, thanks! Not being a parent myself i don't fully understand how having a private lesson would help? Surly the goal here is to have relevant coaching? So whether it's 1* 9* or complete novice badge (no idea what badges are) is to some extent not relevant? All of which led to this unpleasantness, but it sounds like the root of it was that this young lad didn't do what the instructor said? If they're in charge and the conditions are dangerous then i probably would have done the same, particularly if the combination of the two of them together was a contributing factor... (i don't know i'm just speculating). I wouldn't put it all at ESF's door here...

That said, I started late 20's and i hated it, group skiing and me being rubbish, but i stuck with it and got moved around groups when mine dissipated, i was with people much better than me and those much worse than me (at the time). As an adult i got it, i could work on things separately to the others and my comfort zone was affected both ways. No doubt as a child this is far worse, but life isn't always roses.
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Bella2015 wrote:
@snowdave, so you donít think itís odd if two kids skied together for a three years and a in their second year, one child progressed one level higher than the other, while in the third year the child who was a level above in the second year, ended up four (!) levels below his friend?
I for one do not think it odd. We have skied with friends for years and the kids just progress at different levels. Some appear to move ahead quickly but it is often only speed, while others 'seem' to not be progressing but then get the badge, as they have the technique that ESF want. We have twins and they progress differently. One has better technique than the other BUT the other is faster. But once they started ski racing here in the UK the one with the better technique did not do as well on 'carpet' and missed gates in her races and just could not transition as well. Go figure! With our friends we have always tried to not compare and just build the kids resilience. This is harder for you as well, as your son does have additional needs. When our girls got their gold, our friends son, who was 2 years older, did not. That could have led to a lot of upset - as it did for a couple of a lot older lads in the class, cue complaining from their French parents. But our friends lad accepted it, he was sensible enough to see while he was faster, he was not as controlled. Now 2 years on, our girls are on his case to do his gold again and want to join him in the class. We know some of the ESF instructors in our resort and they've said to the girls to do just do a class for 'fun'. Expensive fun for us, but they want him to get his gold and they have had nothing but great experience with ESF in Les Carroz.
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@Bella2015, and Cheesie ...I also have heard good things about ESF Les Carroz. But I guess you all know that while ESF are all ESF, and the uniforms are much the same, each ESF in each resort constitutes a different local enterprise. This seems to add up to very different models, attitudes to clients, and client experiences.

Contrast our experience with Swiss Mountain Sports, owned by Yves Caillet. 15 years ago, after an experience much like yours at the official ESS school, we took advice and used Yves. My daughter had a great time, and learned both safety on the hill and excellent technique. Then my son came along, and at 2 and a half he had very bad separation anxiety. His first reports were 'turbulent and capricious' - which Yves and I now laugh over. The key thing is, that despite being a VERY difficult youngster at that stage, the school really worked wonders with Alex; they really knew how to manage and support him. At 12, he now is a trusted associate of the school, skiing at a very, very high level. Even now, people stop to watch him pass. At no time have I had anything other than complete confidence in the school, in the individual instructors (Carole, Andre-Luc 'Magic' Mounir, Sasha, Alain and Tim and others) - and my kids love the coaching. As I mentioned, never a group larger than 5, and often much smaller. Always good allocation re level. Always with coaches who love the mountains and actively hand on that love as well as supporting development of technique.
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@Levi215, private lesson would help to get the relevant coaching... as I think for a child who skied all over the resort a year before , to be stuck on nursery slopes for half of the week was a waste of time and money..

@Cheesie168, @snowdave, agree that kids progress in different rate, but in this situation the alleged gap just seemed too wide and too sudden to be accurate.. so while I think that my friends daughter does learn differently from my son and due to her greater maturity is better able to cope with ESF style of teaching and hence was able to keep up with 3* group, I still do not believe that my son would have not coped in 1* had the instructor given him another chance.

@valais2, I totally agree the instructors approach, attitude and ability to support and motivate is extremely important... and it can make all the difference
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Maybe should move onto elephant in room, that is tendency for some to overestimate their own and their children's ability. An issue that can be major issue for ski instructors running groups. I have heard it claimed on several occasions that this tendency to overestimate oneself is a particular trait among Brits! (I do think this is generalization; Brits come in all shapes and sizes, but yes a lot of them do have ideas above their stations, like anyone). Supposedly Irish underestimate their ability - I'd definitely believe that!
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