Prince orders training inquiry

26th November 2004 at 00:00
The Prince of Wales has commissioned an inquiry into teacher training in pursuit of his interest in modern teaching methods.

Undeterred by the controversy over his apparent suggestion that schools are encouraging pupils to rise above their station, he has commissioned an investigation into the role of training in encouraging child-centred teaching.

He has asked James Sabben-Clare, former head of Winchester college, to question education professionals about their attitudes to child-centred learning and the importance of subject knowledge in would-be teachers.

Bethan Marshall, English education lecturer at King's college, London, one of those approached by Mr Sabben-Clare, said: "Child-centred learning is all about people not knowing their place, but thinking for themselves and asking questions. If you're quite hierarchical, you won't like it."

This research is being conducted as the prince tries to minimise the impact of a memo presented at an industrial tribunal. It attacked child-centred learning, claiming that it encourages pupils "to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their actual capabilities".

Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, said his remarks were "old-fashioned". But Ruth Lea, of right-wing think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies, said: "What he says is timelessly right. The idea that a child decides what to learn is absolutely disastrous. I welcome his views on teacher-training.

"It's a sign of intolerance that the education establishment descended in great hordes on him. The Labour party is all Trotskyites, Maoists and Marxists, taking any chance to knock the toffs."

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