Prince Charles challenged ‘fashionable’ view of teachers as ‘facilitators’, letters reveal

The Prince of Wales wrote to an education secretary to express his view on “fashionable” teaching methods, official letters published today reveal.

The heir to the throne wrote in November 2004 to Charles Clarke, the Labour education secretary at the time, about the education summer schools that the Prince of Wales had been running.

He thanked Mr Clarke for his support for the schools and said that they were about “challenging the fashionable view that teachers should not impart bodies of knowledge but should act as ‘facilitators’ or ‘coaches’, a notion which I find difficult to understand, I must admit”.

Prince Charles began his letter, released today under the Freedom of Information Act, by asking whether Mr Clarke could “bear to receive a report…from someone with such old-fashioned views (!)”.

Later in the same letter, asking whether the minister would support his plan for a teacher training institute, the Prince mused: “But perhaps I am now too dangerous to associate with!”

Mr Clarke’s successor Ruth Kelly replied in February 2005 to say that the government could not directly fund the Prince’s venture – which was later set up – as there were already several “very high-quality” teacher training providers.

The Prince of Wales wrote back later that month, telling Ms Kelly that he “remained convinced that the current approaches to teaching and learning need to be challenged, something now acknowledged by some of the professional agencies themselves!”.

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