PUPILS from a secondary school have been asked to sign "contracts" pledging to work hard to pass exams.

The learning agreements have been introduced as part of a drive to improve standards.

Initially aimed at fifth year pupils studying mathematics qualifications the contracts will be rolled out across all subjects if they are deemed to be a success.

By signing the contracts, the school's pupils agree to act on the teachers advice, meet all deadlines and study for and pass preliminary examinations.

The agreements also ask pupils to complete and submit homework on time on a weekly basis "to ensure each period during class time is used fully and productively".

The agreement adds: "I will work hard to try and achieve my target grade. I agree to take care of my jotters and textbooks..... and to provide for myself basic maths equipment including pencils, rulers and calculators."

Claire Connelly, acting headteacher at St Aiden's High School, in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, where the scheme has been introduced, said the contracts were being piloted in by the maths department with five classes in S5.

She said: "The thinking behind this is to encourage young people to take more responsibility for their learning in terms of attitude, resources and their target grade.

"We have high expectations for the attainment of all our young people. It is part of a wider approach led by the principal teacher in addressing an identified need to increase attainment within maths.

"Targets are agreed with all learners across all subjects in the senior phase, but this pilot contract is an attempt to revisit the target grade after the first unit assessment in order to ensure it is ambitious, but realistic."

The school said the impact of the pilot would be evaluated by tracking the attainment and effort of the young people involved as well as asking their parents for feedback. The school will then consider using the contracts across all subjects.

Pupils said they were unsure about the contracts when they were first introduced, but they could also see the benefits.

Clare Marsh, 16, said: "At first it made me feel under pressure, but then I thought the pressure was good for me.

"It means that if I don’t do my homework the teacher can ask how I am going to achieve my target and so it is motivating me to achieve my best.

"When I do the assessment, if I don’t perform as well as I hope, I will still want to aim for my target and it will make me more determined to achieve it."

Liam Corr, 16, added: "Last year, I didn't think enough about my target grades, but now the target is more formal and my maths teacher expects me to achieve it.

"If my assessment doesn’t go well I plan to speak to the teacher in more detail as we discuss my new target and I’ll need to have a think about why I haven’t done well. It will also make me think about my other subjects and the effort I am putting in."

However, one parent raised concerns over the contracts suggesting they could be used to discourage pupils from sitting maths exams.

She said: "I am cautious of signing the agreement because I could see potential problems for pupils as the school could use it as a filtering system to exclude them from sitting the exam.

"Although I appreciate the school may be using this as a way to engage pupils and parents, I find the vagueness of the terms uncomfortable and the consequences of failing the preliminary unanswered."

The initiative comes as concerns are mounting over the teaching of basic standards in Scottish schools.

Last year, Scottish primary schools experienced a dramatic decline in standards of numeracy. And this year examiners found pupils struggled with maths qualifications stating: "It was noted that the numeracy skills of many candidates appeared to be lower than would be expected."