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Jamieson backs diversity but not innovation overload

John Cairney reports on a curtain-raising conference for the EIS's annual meeting next week.

THE Education Minister rejected a "one size fits all" approach to comprehensive education in her keynote address.

Although Cathy Jamieson's stance was reported as a major policy departure, it is firmly "on message" with the signal given last August by her predecessor Jack McConnell, now First Minister, that schools would have greater freedom to pursue "curricular flexibility" if that benefited pupils.

Ms Jamieson reiterated this policy, which she linked to closing the "opportunity gap" and raising standards. She said: "I make no apology for saying the outcome is far more important than the process."

In her most widely reported remarks, Ms Jamieson said that she had been struck by the number of young people who have been pressing for "fundamental differences to the school day", perhaps making it longer.

But she reassured teachers that extended hours would not mean that they would work more hours. "We could organise time for formal learning differently. We could look more widely at who else can work with teachers to support young people and to help meet individual needs."

Ms Jamieson also made clear her determination not to allow the national education debate to add more and more burdens on schools. "We must not launch a new initiative for every new idea," she said.

Brian Monteith, the Tories' education spokesman, said that a rejection of the "one size fits all" approach should logically lead to more specialist schools, including faith schools.

Mr Monteith said that this chimed with his party conference speech and he welcomed the fact that Ms Jamieson "now appears to want to implement it for me".

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