MINISTER'S AMAZING ATTACK ON CHARLES; Old Fashioned, Patronising View of Schools Says Clarke

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EDUCATION Secretary Charles Clarke launched an extraordinary attack on Prince Charles today saying he was "old fashioned and out of time".

Mr Clarke's comments come after Charles said he believed that Britain's "child-centred" education system raised people's expectations to unreasonable levels.

In an astonishing breach of the convention that ministers do not criticise the royal family, Mr Clarke said the Prince did not understand the education system.

He said the Prince should "think carefully" before commenting on public matters.

An incandescent Mr Clarke said Charles represented a "patronising and old-fashioned view".

Mr Clarke added: "I don't want to get in a tangle with the Prince of Wales- but to be quite frank I think he is very old-fashioned and out of time and doesn't actually understand what's going on in the British education system at the moment."

His tirade came after Prince Charles responded to a letter from a member of his staff in which she said that university graduates should be able to rise through the ranks to the top jobs in the royal household. At an employment tribunal yesterday, secretary Elaine Day described an "Edwardian" hierarchy at Clarence House.

In a private memo to an aide in response to her views, the Prince said: "What is wrong with everyone nowadays? What is it that makes everyone seem to think that they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities?

"This is all to do with the learning culture in schools.

"It is a consequence of a child centred system which admits no failure and tells people they can all be pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or even infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary effort or having natural abilities.

"It's social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically and socially reengineered to contradict the lessons of history".

Normally ministers refuse to comment on members of the royal family but a furious Mr Clarke ditched any pretence of deference. …