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Winter diet may be set for a comeback

David Henderson reports from the national conference on the reform programme for schools

Teachers want more flexibility around courses and exams and are putting pressure on for a return of the winter diet, the Education Minister said this week.

"I am open-minded about this," Peter Peacock declared as national exams got under way.

A limited trial was carried out with a second exam diet five years ago, but it was ditched after one session because of low uptake.

Interest has been revived as some authorities and individual schools move Standard grade courses down the age range, with knock-on effects on exam schedules and senior courses.

Brian Cooklin, education spokesman for the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, said practice varied across Scotland. Some schools were cautious about a shake-up when further changes were about to follow from A Curriculum for Excellence.

Mr Cooklin said some secondaries wanted to run 18-month Standard grade courses that ended halfway through S4. They could then sit exams around Christmas to give them longer on Higher or Intermediate courses. Some wanted the latter as two-year courses.

The Stonelaw High headteacher said many of his colleagues believed the winter diet was scrapped too soon and could usefully have been extended to cover more subjects than it originally included.

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