This PTI was set up by the former Prince of Wales twenty years ago and used to be called the Prince’s Teaching Institute. It was a school-led response to an increasing centralisation and prescription of what teachers taught and how, a reaction to concerns that children were only being drilled to pass exams and not being offered real, deep, interesting learning. It's never been a pressure group, but an organisation where teachers work with academics, public thinkers and other teachers to share their love of their subjects and find interesting ways of teaching them. It's independent of government and funded by charitable donation, by philanthropists. The former Prince of Wales was enthusiastic to play a central part.
I got involved about 15 years ago and my last school was an enthusiastic consumer of the PTI’s courses. Tallis is too and we have a PTI Mark for four subject departments and for Leadership. Some of our subject leaders run sessions for other PTI teachers, and we get all of this, residential weekend conferences too in nice venues, for a very small contribution.
PTI has a full-time Director and I was asked to become Co-Director in 2019: I’m just starting my fourth year. It means that PTI buy a bit under a day a week of my time from Tallis, for which they refund the school at the right rate. I advise them on what’s afoot in schools, and I can talk with donors and such. And that’s how I met the King, our Royal Patron.
When I say ‘met the King’, I mean I’ve met him four times. We’ve talked and he has expressed his concerns and views. He’s interested in schools and young people – as the long-term success of the excellent Prince’s Trust shows – and in what they can learn. The photo is of me being introduced to for the first time at a dinner (hence my extraordinary outfit).
So when the papers say that the King has a real interest in the education and wellbeing of all young people, I can tell you that’s true. I’ve heard it from the man himself. I think that’s a good thing. I’ll invite him to visit!