Charles: Pupils affected by Grenfell fire can make a real difference

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The Prince of Wales told children he hopes they will make a “real difference to the future of this country” as he visited a school affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

In a visit to the Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA), Charles also suggested the children would be the next generation of cyber security experts, during a special assembly featuring a choir and a dance routine.

This came after the prince spoke to five pupils affected by the Grenfell disaster, telling them they were “lucky to have the opportunities of enrichment” the school offered.

It is students’ second term back in the building in west London after it was forced to relocate following the June 2017 blaze.

“We were a bit nervous because he’s royalty, from royal blood. We thought he’d be sterner but he was really sweet,” said Yusra Ali, a year 11 student.

“He said we were good ambassadors for the school after the tragedy in 2017.

“We were discussing enrichment opportunities at this school, which include music, debates and sports.”

Jake Ayling, in year 9, told of the difficulties he faced after the disaster in 2017.

“Last year we were in the temporary building, after the fire we stayed in Portakabins as we couldn’t stay in this building.

“He told us that we now have good opportunities in this school and for the future.”

Earlier on Wednesday morning around 200 pupils welcomed the prince, waving flags and cheering.

During an assembly with a choir performance and dance, headmaster David Benson thanked Charles for visiting, and said the school had been through “difficult” times.

The prince took a front row seat as around 40 children sang What About Us – a song they learned while they were in temporary accommodation last year. Afterwards he was handed a pot of local honey by the music teacher.

Giving an impromptu speech, the prince told students: “If I may say so, I hope you have the greatest possible success in the future.

“It isn’t always easy, there are a lot of appalling challenges out there, but I hope your experiences here will help you a little bit to cope with those challenges and make a real difference to the future of this country.

“Because we are going to rely on so many of you, and many of you, I’m sure, are going to be frighteningly clever computer engineers and people helping to sort out all these cyber security issues (that) I don’t understand, but I’m sure many of you will help to make sure we can do our best.

“So best of luck all of you, and as I said to some of you, you can always blame me if you don’t pass the exams.”

After the visit, Mr Benson said: “The Prince of Wales was definitely aware of the recent history of the school, he knew about Grenfell, he knew about the way the school had been impacted, he knew about the displacement to the temporary school.

“Actually, today, what he wanted to talk about was the achievements of the students, how happy and settled they are now to be back in their home, about their ambitions. He talks to students a lot about the universities they are applying to.

“I think he was very aware but also, for him, I think this was about a positive visit, it was about celebrating the achievement of the students.”

Charles is patron of Teach First, a fast-track teacher training charity which places staff in disadvantaged areas.

Around 20 teachers trained with Teach First at KAA.

The prince spoke highly of the charity as he entered the building and greeted Mr Benson, a Teach First graduate, and other senior representatives.

During the visit Charles sat in on history and geography lessons and also spent time in the school’s library.

“You’d better get on with it otherwise it will be my fault if you don’t pass your exams,” he joked in the geography lesson.

“Good luck,” he added as he left the room.

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