In an unprecedented move, the Prince of Wales invited 250 primary headteachers to Highgrove, his country home, on Wednesday evening. Among the guests were David Blunkett, Education and Employment Secretary, and chief inspector Chris Woodhead.
The Prince and Mr Woodhead are old allies in their campaign against "fashionable" teaching methods, with the chief inspector said to be a regular visitor to seminars at Highgrove.
One of the Prince's staff said he wanted to give his support and encouragement to schools which reflected a particularly high standard of teaching.
The letter of invitation said: "His Royal Highness wishes very much to recognise the importance of schools which provide an effective grounding in the basic skills needed by our children and which are an example to others of the best in our primary school system."
His spokeswoman said it was the first time primary teachers had been invited to Highgrove, but it was no secret that the Prince was interested in high standards of education. She declined to explain how the schools had been chosen.
The gathering fuelled press reports that the Labour Government was forming a close bond with the Prince, who shared a platform at an awards ceremony in Glasgow on Monday with Donald Dewar, the Scottish Secretary.
On Tuesday he met Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, at a Business in the Community reception when they both appealed to business leaders to help to get young people off the dole. The Prince's spokeswoman said the Education and Employment Secretary had been invited, but would have been "whatever the colour of the Government".
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, and Nick Tate, chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, were also invited, but had prior engagements.
The general secretaries of the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers were not on the guest list.