Prince Charles lobbied Scottish first minister on behalf of Teach First, documents reveal

Papers released under the Freedom of Information Act show the charity followed up a meeting between the prince and Alex Salmond in 2013 with a request to meet the then education secretary

Prince Charles (Shutterstock)
Prince Charles (Shutterstock)

The Prince of Wales privately lobbied the Scottish first minister on behalf of a teacher training charity that wanted to win government contracts, official documents indicate.

A letter, published in The Guardian newspaper after a four-month freedom of information battle, reveals that Prince Charles met the then first minister, Alex Salmond, in 2013.

The prince is patron of the charity Teach First, which followed up the encounter to pressure the then Scottish education secretary, Mike Russell, into meeting the charity's chief executive, Brett Wigdortz.

In a letter to Russell, the charity mentioned the meeting between the prince and Salmond and said it had been "considering if there is a role for Teach First to recruit and place inspirational teachers in schools serving low-income communities in Scotland".

Teach First, which operates teacher-training schemes in England and Wales, wanted the Scottish government to relax rules that require teachers to take a year-long postgraduate degree. It hoped to tender for a £250,000 Scottish government training contract.

After the prince's intervention, Russell said he would be pleased to meet the charity, whose representatives also met Nicola Sturgeon after she became first minister and John Swinney, her education secretary.

Swinney later launched a tendering process for a teaching programme with similarities to Teach First's proposals. However, the charity ultimately did not bid amid reports that Scottish universities had refused to work with it.

A Teach First spokesman said the tendering timeline did not give it enough time to bid. He declined to answer questions about whether the prince's lobbying of ministers on the charity's behalf was appropriate.

"We would consider that a matter for the Prince of Wales’s office," the spokesman said. "We have no further comment at this time."

Clarence House rejected claims that the prince, who is known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, had admitted lobbying.

A spokeswoman said all his meetings with Salmond were in the public domain.

"Given Teach First’s considerable success in improving the fortunes of schools and their pupils in England, it should come as no surprise that, as patron, the duke would offer to share its insight and expertise in Scotland through introductions to key individuals within the organisation," she said.

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