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Bowled over by Charles

ENGLISH and drama teachers are generally reckoned to be a rebellious bunch. Look for the centre of anti-establishment feeling in a school and you'll probably find it in the studio theatre.

So it is all the more impressive then that 30 teachers on a course run by the Royal Shakespeare Company should be so bowled over by the Prince of Wales.

They were at a private reception at Highgrove, Charles's Gloucestershire home, for participants in the RSC's Prince of Wales Shakespeare School.

Although private means no press The TES was granted special dispensation, But there was still protocol to be observed - there was to be no repetition of comments made by the Prince to the teachers.

The Prince instigated the annual summer school personally, paid for the first one himself in 1993 and still takes a keen interest, always meeting the participants if possible.

The RSC receives about 200 applications for the 30 places, each now sponsored to the tune of Pounds 1,000 by Allied Domecq. Teachers come from all over the country to share ideas about making Shakespeare accessible and to attend practical workshops led by RSC education staff, directors, actors and designers.

Prince Charles managed to meet everyone; our allotted hour became three. He chatted about Shakespeare (he is a frequent visitor to Stratford) and was especially enthusiastic about Al Pacino's Looking for Richard.

Afterwards, Lesley Kaufman from Lord Williams's School in Thame, Oxfordshire, said that she had been impressed by his interest in multicultural matters and found his attitude "refreshingly broad".

"As teachers we never get acknowledged and we are bad at acknowledging ourselves. I appreciate someone of such high status - and big business - supporting the delivery of the arts curriculum," she said.

We got a personal tour of the grounds, and then, loaded up with Highgrove goodies such as jam and handmade fudge (all sold in aid of the Prince's Charitable Trust) we fell into the coach to go back to Stratford to catch the second half of Bartholomew Fair.

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