IS PRINCE Charles correct? Does our child-centred, and by extension our student-centred, system allow students to think that they can become 'top pop stars, high court judges or brilliant TV presenters'?

I certainly hope so.

Raising aspirations is one of the main thrusts of our educational system. No longer should people by necessity be content with their 'lot in life'. The days of the rigid social structure are after all at an end.

But, in fairness, it was not the social mobility that Charles was complaining about, but the expectation, which he believes is widely held, that anyone can succeed without trying.

One of the phrases most bandied about when education is discussed describes a 'prizes for all' society where no one fails.

Such a phrase produces preconceptions which are hard to rebut, no matter how misplaced the preconceptions are. We have seen a similar use of loaded phrases in the fox hunting debate.

Yet the real question is considerably less clear. Do we have a quota for the number of people who can pass an exam or do we say everyone who reaches the required level has passed? There are no prizes for all in education. There are failures.

But we should not measure the success of some by the failure of others, but rather we should share the failure. If our students fail, we have failed them.

I hope Prince Charles soon recognises that a considerable amount of effort goes into realising the aspirations of today's students.