A lot of secondary schools use these, and I know they are particularly popular with academies.
In general I think they are a good idea, but no matter how much you want your child to attend a particular school don't just sign them, read them and if necessary question it, particularly if you have child with special education needs.
When my daughters school changed to an academy we were given an agreement and asked to sign it. The teacher seemed surprise when I read through it first, not many parents did. The teacher then thought I was trying to be funny when I asked what if I refused to sign it. When she didn't reply I asked her to get someone I could talk to because I was not prepared to sign it.
The issue may seem minor to many parents but previouIsly the school could give up to 30 minutes detention without informing parents, this was changed to 2 hours in the new agreement. The new principle tried to assure me given my daughter's record - she had never done detention - he did not see it as being an issue. I pointed out on several occasions she had been chased home by bullies with at least one busy road to navigate and I was not prepared to wait two hours past her usual time for getting home before getting concerned. In the end it was agreed that if she had to do more than 30 minutes detention we would be informed by the school.
In the last few months at the school we got a call from my daughter at the end of the day angry and in tears to tell us they had just been informed they would be staying at school 2 hours longer to continue doing English. They already had the full week scheduled to only do English, no other lessons, which had upset her. They were told they had no choice as both they and their parents had signed the school agreement which allowed them to keep them in school for up to 2 hours without telling the parents. I told her to attend class until someone came to tell her to go home.
I called the principle to ask when they had decided to tear up the home school agreement and when I explained what was going on he was not happy. As my daughter said he came in told me to go home and asked to speak to the teacher in the corridor. I was also called back to discuss the issue with the principle and head of English. The reasoning was to give extra lessons and support to help improve exam grades. My daughter was predicted to get an A, so all the extra pressure and stress was to get a * after the A.
I pointed out that the section they were referring to was to do with detention and not a free pass to increase the school day on a whim. I did not consider the extra stress and pressure on my daughter to be worth the potential improvement in her final grade. I stated firmly that my daughter's mental health was not an acceptable price for what they wanted and refused consent for her day to be extended for any period of time for this purpose. If she was suddenly given detention I would be asking for a full explanation.
She was the only one who did not do the extra hours, and still got an A* on English.
Another issue to consider is zero tolerance policies. Over the years there have been a number of 'silly' stories on children getting caught out on zero tolerance policies and punishments. The papers in particular love these type of stories, but it should be remembered that zero tolerance means just that. By definition it means the school has little choice but to enforce it or it is not zero tolerance. It can also mean that even the best students can get caught in the wrong circumstances.