PARENTS will start taking schools to court if their children don’t perform well in the classroom under controversial new laws, a politician has warned.

Tavish Scott, education spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said proposals to make schools responsible for raising standards risked the introduction of a suing culture in education.

READ MORE: Majority of councils do not collect and assess standardised test results from schools

Last week, the Scottish Government announced schools are to be given unprecedented legal responsibilities for the education of pupils.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, said he would introduce new legislation next year which will see schools held directly accountable for the first time for “delivering education and raising standards”.

Under the current Standards in Scotland’s Schools Act only councils are under a duty to educate pupils to their “fullest potential”.

READ MORE: Majority of councils do not collect and assess standardised test results from schools

Mr Scott said: “One highly significant change is to extend the legal responsibility for educating children to schools which means parents will have a right to challenge their school on educational performance.

“If you are a parent and your son or daughter fails to pass one of the new tests the Scottish Government is introducing then there could now be a legal right to challenge why.

“Was the teacher at fault? Did the local education department fail to provide the resources to ensure teachers were adequately supported in the classroom or have Scottish Government cuts made the delivery of education worse?”

Mr Scott said ministers had already enshrined various rights for healthcare into law which had resulted in a “relentless focus” within the NHS on meeting targets that could be legally challenged at the expense of overall improvement.

READ MORE: Majority of councils do not collect and assess standardised test results from schools

He added: “In schools the same will happen. This will only reinforce the teaching profession’s view that professional judgment will become secondary to the achieving of targets at various ages. Is that the right way forward?”

The new legislation was also questioned by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union.

Larry Flanagan, the union’s general secretary, said: “We believe there is a need for much greater clarity as to what shifting the legal responsibility for educational outcomes from local authorities to schools would mean in practical terms for teachers and pupils.

“We have been very clear that any system which promotes a target-setting agenda, leading to a league-table approach and the promotion of unnecessary and unhelpful competition between schools, would be a damaging retrograde step."

Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said the plan was likely to alter the relationship between parents and schools.

She added: “Until the details become clear, it’s going to be difficult to envision how the plan is going to work in a practical sense.”

Under Mr Swinney’s plans millions of pounds of funding will be given directly to headteachers to allow for key decisions to be made at school level - with a new national formula established to provide a universal standard for staffing after concerns of inequalities across Scotland.

In addition, in September this year Mr Swinney will launch a review of the way schools are run which will examine how to “empower” schools and parents and “decentralise management” through the creation of new education regions. It is currently unclear how this will impact on council control.

A spokeswoman for Mr Swinney said: "Tavish Scott’s assertions bear no relationship to the reality of our plans to empower schools and teachers.

"We want teachers, parents and communities to have more say in how schools are run and children are supported to learn. We think that is a good thing and we think most people would agree.

"At the same time, we have made clear that if we are to close the attainment gap and improve standards, we all need to know how our children are progressing in their learning from the earliest age."