HEADTEACHERS have been invited to a meeting with Prince Charles and representatives of controversial fast-track teacher training charity Teach First - despite critics warning they should have no role in Scottish education.

The invitation has been issued to senior staff working in East Ayrshire by Dumfries House Education, a trust which runs outdoor courses for pupils on its 2000 acre estate near Cumnock, Ayrshire.

According to the organisers the meeting was arranged to discuss how education in the local area could be improved.

However, teaching unions have warned the meeting could spark concern if it is being used to provide a “platform” for Teach First.

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Opponents of the Teach First model – which sees new recruits in the classroom after a five week summer school – argue it undermines the established quality of university routes into the profession in Scotland.

Teach First was widely expected to bid for a new fast-track course introduced as part of the Scottish Government’s education reforms, but pulled out of the tender last year.

An East Ayrshire council spokesman said the meeting was not to promote the Teach First model.

He said: “We can confirm some of our headteachers have been invited to a meeting with Prince Charles, but the agenda is not about the promotion of Teach First.

“Teach First is not providing any services in Scotland and we understand it has no current plans to be involved with education in Scotland.”

A spokesman for Teach First said representatives would be attending the event, but they were not organising it.

A spokesman for Dumfries House added: “We regularly host events to discuss issues relating to the communities of East Ayrshire.

“The forthcoming meeting, concerning education in the local area, will be hosted by Dumfries House and will have representatives from the local council as well as Teach First among the invited guests.”

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However, the Educational Institute of Scotland warned against any attempt to facilitate the introduction of Teach First in Scotland.

A spokesman said: “We do not believe that organisations such as Teach First have a role to play in Scottish education as we have serious concerns over the compatibility with Scotland’s professional teaching standards of such training on the job approaches.

“The specific nature of this particular event is unclear, but the EIS would be disappointed if East Ayrshire Council was involving itself, and some of its headteachers, in a platform for Teach First.”

A spokesman for the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the profession’s watchdog, said they had been invited, but declined to attend.

He added: “We are aware of this meeting and received a call from an East Ayrshire headteacher inviting GTCS on behalf of the local authority. We have made our position clear on Teach First and will not be attending the meeting.

“However, we are happy to speak to the local authority or any headteacher direct about recruitment or other issues they might be facing and this is something we do on a weekly basis.”

The Dumfries House trust was established in 2007 when the estate was saved for the nation by a consortium led by Prince Charles.

The Royal is also a patron of the Teach First charity, which runs fast-track teacher training courses in England and Wales.

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Last year the organisation came under fire after a move to offer fast-track teaching qualifications in Scotland.

However, they pulled out citing concerns over the proposed timeline and funding arrangements - while also seeking to engage in further dialogue over the delivery of “a programme in the future”.

Clarence House declined to comment on the meeting.