Prince Charles adds primary staff to guest list

21st April 2006 at 01:00
Primary teachers are to be invited to the Prince of Wales's summer school for the first time.

Around 25 will attend the first day, which includes a session by author Michael Morpurgo, a former children's laureate.

The invitation follows requests from primary teachers to be invited to the summer school, which is in its fifth year.

A spokeswoman for Clarence House said: "This year the first day programme will include Michael Morpurgo, who we thought might be relevant to them."

But she said: "It is not something we plan to expand more generally."

The summer school has traditionally been aimed at state secondary English and history teachers, and attracts renowned writers such as Alan Bennett and Seamus Heaney. Numbers for this year's event - date and venue have yet to be announced - are still being finalised, but it is expected that slightly more than 80 teachers will be invited.

The summer school aims to provide teachers with an opportunity to step away from the classroom, to hear from inspirational speakers and to discuss and rediscover their love of their subject.

It has also become influential politically. In 2003, Charles Clarke, the then education secretary, attended. At last year's summer school at Dartington Hall, in Devon, Prince Charles attacked "voguish"

preoccupations, citing a GCSE being piloted which allowed pupils to study text messaging and television programmes.

Michael Morpurgo, who has published more than 80 books for children, said:

"I am thrilled that primary teachers are going to be represented at this distinguished conference.

"Literature is not a medicine that you can make children take by telling them it is good for them. Getting children reading ... is not something that starts when they get to university, it begins when they are sitting in bed with their mother or father reading to them.

"If we want children to read great literature ... the way to do it is exposing them to the kind of stories they will love very young.

"I shall be reading a story I have written about storytelling called I Believe in Unicorns. Its hero is a librarian who, by reading with a passion, transforms a child's life so he becomes a writer. It is very autobiographical, although it is set in the Balkans."

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