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Home-school deals cloud the issues

I was more than a little concerned by the report on home-school agreements, and in particular the suggestion that heads are likely to support contracts as part of admissions criteria (TES, October 18).

The Secondary Heads Association, which represents by far the majority of heads and deputies in secondary schools, in no way supports this idea.

SHA heads and deputies expect to work hard to promote positive behaviour by pupils, and to support all staff as they try to maintain a good working atmosphere; they also recognise the need to work closely with parents and governors to establish a context and framework for co-operation which will support the learning process.

Many SHA members have already taken the time to build up workable home-school agreements with the parents of their pupils. The idea that these agreements should be turned into quasi-legal mandatory contracts is, however, anathema.

Yes, there is a small but growing number of children who are resistant to schools' powers of persuasion, and we must use all available means to help them to adapt to school life, in their own and the other children's interests. Many schools are using well-thought out behaviour-modification programmes involving both rewards and consequences to do this.

Mandatory contracts are likely to be, at best, sideshows in this process, and could prove to be a serious and expensive distraction.

PETER MILLER SHA president 1996-97 Deputy headteacher Wrenn School Wellingborough, Northamptonshire

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