There is no doubt in my mind, ladies and gentlemen, about the contribution which study support can make to our schoolchildren who require help to learn in an environment free from competing distractions. I see this as a long-term investment in our children's future that will be repaid many times over by the benefits it will bring - not just to pupils themselves and the quality of their lives, but also to the community generally.

There is not much useful advice after what we have heard this morning. Certainly my experience of trying to teach is very limited indeed. I was trying to rack my brains while I was listening to all the young talking about their experiences as to whether I could think of anything that I had done. In 1966, when I was in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, I remember being required to give a lesson to some of the children in a grass hut about aspects of the British Constitution. A very good test of initiative, if I may say so. And I suspect those children who must now be 30 or 40 years old, are probably none the wiser.

Anyway, I am delighted to have the opportunity of dropping in on you in Edinburgh this morning. It is such a very special place. I think it is without a doubt, in my opinion, one of the most wonderful cities in Britain and has such a very special atmosphere. And it certainly does my spirits good coming here, that is without a shadow of doubt.

I am very grateful to the young people who have spoken so eloquently about the impact that study support has had on them. I would also like to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this conference happen - I am sure the day will prove to be a resounding success.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you don't need me to remind you of the importance of study support and the help it can bring to so many of our schoolchildren up and down the country.

However, the uncomfortable truth is that too many of our young end up under-achieving at school. Too many of them fail to make the best of their individual talents. And too many of them do not learn the joys of learning and all that it can bring in terms of deepening our understanding and appreciation of the world around us and of the riches of human cultural and scientific awareness.

The lost potential this brings, both in individual and human terms for society as a whole is depressingly large, as is the sacrifice of our children's ability to contribute fully as future citizens and leaders.

The study support movement grew up out of the realisation that there was a need amongst many schoolchildren, which had somehow to be met, for a place outside the home where private study and a love of learning might be encouraged. I certainly do not want to repeat what other speakers have said on the subject this morning, but I do just want to say a few words about the role of my Trust in what I think is a vitally important activity which can better help schools to meet the needs of all their pupils.

My Prince's Trust has been involved in the study support initiative since 1991 when it grew out of a suggestion made by someone else, and much to their amazement we managed to pick it up and run with it, and I hope make it work; and this initiative makes a substantial number of awards to individual centres each year. We have had some success, I believe, in drawing people's attention to this initiative and only last year I had the opportunity to introduce President Chirac to the valuable role of study support during his visit to Easterhouse in Glasgow.

In 1996 I am proud to say that some 42,000 young people benefited from study support initiatives supported by my Trust, of which 12,000 were here in Scotland alone. Looking ahead, we very much hope to be helping 1,000 study support centres in schools all over Britain by the Millennium.

Here, in Scotland, you have taken the lead in developing the study support concept. Through the work of Strathclyde University, Scotland has provided the crucial underpinning research on its effectiveness. And Professor John MacBeath and Dr Brian Boyd have been enthusiastic advocates of its relevance and value.

Many Local Enterprise Companies, Education Business Partnerships, major companies and the Scottish Board of the National Lottery have become deeply involved and provided immense support.

I am particularly delighted, ladies and gentlemen, that the private sector now recognises the link between this type of learning and the enhanced skills and abilities it can provide, and that it is prepared to support this initiative in so many schools to the extent it does. The resulting close association in the minds of young people between study support and the world of work is invaluable.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have already mentioned the scale of The Prince's Trust's study support programme. The imagination and vitality that lie behind the statistics are, I believe, very encouraging.

Whether it is the St Michael's Newspaper Project in Ayrshire, the Mexborough School's residential centre in the Yorkshire Dales or the wide range of activities undertaken at the Bellshill Academy, each project my Trust has helped make possible gives young people the space to develop their talents and their relationships in a different kind of teaching outside the classroom.

We have also produced materials to help spread best practice. The latest of them - 'A Breakthrough to Success' - is being launched in Scotland today and has, I hope, already been distributed to you.

In 1997 we shall be extending our Annual Award Scheme to benefit over 200 individual study support centres in the UK. We shall also undertake a series of Action Research and Development projects in areas such as literacy, independent learning skills and homework. And we shall also launch a 'Code of Good Practice' - a kitemark if you like - to help schools in disadvantaged areas maintain the quality of their study support centres. I am extremely grateful that the Scottish Office and the Department for Education and Employment are supporting this initiative.

There is no doubt in my mind, ladies and gentlemen, about the contribution which study support can make to our schoolchildren who require help to learn in an environment free from competing distractions. I see this as a long-term investment in our children's future that will be repaid many times over by the benefits it will bring - not just to pupils themselves and the quality of their lives, but also to the community generally.

But, I need hardly say, little can be achieved in the coming years without your continued help and active commitment. I am immensely appreciative of the practical response you are providing to young people in need - something for which, I believe, parents, pupils, employers and society will be immensely grateful in the years to come."