Have you noticed?

2nd October 1998 at 01:00
Home-school agreements are going to be the big issue for governors this year. Originally, they were intended to be mandatory: parents would be required to sign up as part of the Government's grand plan to make them take responsibility for the misdeeds of their children. Then it was realised that the ultimate sanction for parents who failed to sign or to adhere to the terms of the contract would be to exclude their children from school, thus making them responsible for the misdeeds of their parents.

Hasty rethinking produced a compromise. Governors are required to draw up a parental declaration and try to ensure that as many parents as possible sign; unless, as they delicately put it, special circumstances make this inappropriate. In other words, if Darren's Dad looks likely to thump you, back off. No change there, then.

Disaffected parents and pupils are as likely to sign and abide by an agreement as they are to attend parents' evenings and hand in coursework on time. But let's be positive about this. Handled well by staff and governors, with maximum consultation and minimum confrontation, we can use this as an opportunity to strengthen the home-school partnership. It must be an improvement on the consumerist model of the past ten years.

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