The inspectorate is "fully signed up" to the agenda of allowing schools to have greater flexibility and choice, the Education Minister told the conference.
During a question and answer session, Peter Peacock said this would be one of the items for discussion when he next met Graham Donaldson, senior chief inspector. Mr Peacock was aware of worries that inspectors "act as a brake on risk-taking in schools who fear they might be clobbered in the next HMIE report".
But Mr Peacock said Mr Donaldson was committed to the policy of flexibility. "The inspectorate will not be saying to schools, 'don't move outside the parameters but, if you are going to do it, do so in a thoughtful, measured and professional way - and evaluate it'."