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Law student introduces Jack McConnell to Labour's Scottish conference in Glasgow

(Photograph) - In an unusual departure Jack McConnell, First Minister, was introduced to the conference by Jennifer Bryce (above), a first-year law student at Glasgow University.

As a pupil at Cumnock Academy, Ms Bryce was among a series of contributors invited by The TES Scotland to tell Mr McConnell, the newly appointed Education Minister, what they expected of him. Mr McConnell read her remarks about the exams crisis and invited her to serve on the Executive's review group.

In his speech, Mr McConnell announced that 100 new and refurbished schools would be built using private capital if Labour gained a second four-year term. This is in addition to 100 pledged by next year. The announcement was seen as the usual high-wire political act from Mr McConnell, defying union opposition to public private partnerships.

The First Minister delivered a ringing endorsement of PPP arrangements. "Sometimes we will invest with public capital and sometimes with private capital," he said. "We will use whichever provides best value. And let's be clear. We set the standards. We demand the quality."

Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, was less wholehearted. "I recognise the concerns of the unions about the effect of PPP on the workforce," Ms Jamieson said. But she agreed with her boss that "a range of options" would be necessary for investment in school buildings and technology. Photograph by JOHN LINDSAY

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