Prince’s Teaching Institute to offer primary heads courses in ‘rigorous’ subject knowledge

The Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI), which runs subject-based training for secondary school teachers, has announced plans to expand into the primary sector.

The charity, whose co-director Bernice McCabe has spoken out strongly in favour of “rigour” and a knowledge-based curriculum, will run its first event for primary school heads this week.

The event will focus on how schools can “develop an ethos and culture of high aspiration for all pupils”, Ms McCabe told TES.

She said that primary heads attending the conference would listen to “inspirational lectures” on a range of subject areas, before being asked to discuss how they could improve their school’s teaching of that subject.

“What we’re trying to do is help headteachers to come up with strategies to enable them to offer that rich subject education,” she said.

“I feel very passionately about the importance of subject knowledge. Children love having what they call a ‘proper lesson’ on science and I think at key stage 2 they’re ready for it, so it’s important that teachers are confident and knowledgeable.”

Ms McCabe, head of the independent North London Collegiate School, said the PTI’s “premise” was that “children are excited by teachers who are inspirational about their subjects, and that applies to 9 and 10 year olds just as much as to older children”.

She said that in the long term the PTI could expand to provide more detailed subject training to primary teachers.

In a speech at a PTI conference earlier this year, Ms McCabe said that schools were depriving young people of “potentially powerful knowledge” if they focused too heavily on making learning “accessible”, at the expense of teaching a rigorous academic curriculum.

The PTI, whose president is HRH the Prince of Wales, was founded in the wake of an education summer school for English and history teachers in 2002.

In a 2004 letter to then-education secretary Charles Clarke, published as part of the package of so-called “black spider letters” – written by Prince Charles to government ministers and made public for the first time this year – the Prince wrote that the summer school was “challenging the fashionable view that teachers should not impart bodies of knowledge, but should instead act as ‘facilitators’ or ‘coaches’, a notion which I find difficult to understand, I must admit”.

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