Parents warm to terms of 'compact'

Fran Abrams on a three-year-old 'deal' on pupil behaviour
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The Independent Online
If a pupil at James Brindley High School in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, regularly fails to attend school, or is not properly dressed, his or her parents are likely to be reminded of the agreement they signed before their child arrived there.

The 800-pupil, inner-city comprehensive is one of a number which have already put into practice the plan for parent contracts advocated by Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education. Under a "compact" introduced three years ago, parents are asked to sign a statement that they will send their children to school regularly, on time and properly dressed. They also agree to make sure they have the right pencils and PE kit and do their homework properly, as well as promising to attend parents' meetings. New arrivals at school agree to work quietly in class, bring pens, pencils and rulers and not go out of school without permission. They must agree not to run down the corridors, bang doors, shout, or drop litter. In return, the school agrees to provide regular homework, written reports, a newsletter and a wide range of extra- curricular activities.

No one has refused to sign the agreement and admission to the school is not dependent upon it. But Dr John Wood, the head teacher, says it is "a useful starting point for a conversation.

"We see this as an opportunity to set out the requirements of the school. These things tend to be a part of the work routine of every school, but maybe not every school sets it all down in one place."

Parents have welcomed the scheme. Joan Elson, who has two daughters at the school, said many of the requirements were second nature to her, adding: "Our children conformed to these things before they actually went to the school. But from the school's point of view maybe not all children realise that there are rules. It's nice for them to be able to get their parents to go along with them."