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Tory home contracts may be legally binding

Contracts and compacts between home and school will feature in both main parties' manifestos for the general election after Raymond Robertson, the Education Minister, confirmed that the Conservatives are to back written agreements.

Helen Liddell, Labour's education spokeswoman, has already outlined how a loose "compact" will ensure better liaison between home and school but Mr Robertson last Friday raised the ante by floating the idea of a legal contract.

The forthcoming Government White Paper on Scottish education will spell out how the Conservatives' contract will work.

Outlining his proposals, Mr Robertson said: "One option is to give contract arrangements statutory force, for example, to give them a role in the management of exclusion procedures and a direct expression of the important role parents have in the behaviour of their children."

Contracts would embody a set of rules governing behaviour, rewards and sanctions. "Generally, home-to-school contracts involve pupils, parents and the school agreeing a set of rights and responsibilities which they undertake to use to guide their approach to day to day activities in the school. They are two-way: giving rights and responsibilities to both pupils and staff. They are highly individual, reflecting the particular circumstances of participating schools," Mr Robertson said.

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