Ministers are to scrap legislation under which headteachers and governing bodies can turn away children whose parents fail to sign home-school contracts.
They are planning to repeal provisions in the 1997 Education Act which enable schools to use such contracts as part of the admissions process.
But the Government insists that contracts - which cover everything from discipline and punctuality to standards of education and homework - are here to stay. All schools will be required to introduce them as part of the campaign on standards but the new-look contracts will not be legally binding.
Baroness Blackstone, education and employment minister, claimed contracts were important to ensure children were given the best opportunities, and that they would lead to strong partnerships between home and school. "For too long, many parents and teachers have not known what the relationship between home and school should be and what each has a right to expect," she said.
Proposals unveiled by the Government this week show that ministers intend to make every governing body consult parents on the terms of the agreements. Parents will be asked to sign the contract within a "reasonable" time of their child's admission.
The DFEE is consulting local authorities, parent groups, governor associations and teacher unions about the proposals, outlined in the White Paper Excellence in Schools.
But they have already met hostility from the Campaign for State Education, which said: "Inserting a bit of paper in front of supportive parents will spoil the relationship between home and school, making it stiff and adversarial to the detriment of children's learning.
"Home-school contracts are a gimmicky and quick-fix solution, part of the blame culture which seems to pervade current educational thinking."