Tuesday, October 6, 1998 Published at 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Parents 'condoning truancy'
Majorca in June: "It's part of the National Curriculum," says the mother
Many children playing truant from school appear to be doing so with the connivance of their parents.
"If the statistics are to be believed then about 80% of truancy has probably got some form of parental agreement to it," he says.
"Either the parents haven't made their child go to school - 'Well you were ill last week so you can stay off this week', that kind of thing - rather than the children actually deciding, either on the spur of the moment or pre-planned: 'We're not going to school today'."
Welfare officers on the streets of Durham heard simpler excuses.
"She's had a nose bleed for the last week and she has got a doctor's appointment for today," said one father with his daughter.
"She's come shopping with me today. She had her coat got ripped at school, apparently, so we've come for a new one," said a mother.
Schools can give permission for up to 10 days off each year if a child's overall attendance is otherwise good. But parents usually want more than that.
One father in Majorca with his son and daughter said he simply had to fill in a form to get the school's permission.
Some parents keep their children out of school indefinitely. This can result in a court summons and, potentially, a fine of up to £1,000.
Durham education welfare officer Ken Dodd says: "It's just a way of life for them. They see no value in education.
"You sense you've failed but let's hope it's the start of a new beginning."