Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 16:50 GMT
Schools get £500,000 to cut truancy
The government says truants are more likely to turn to crime
Schools leading the way in cutting truancy rates are to get £500,000 to help other schools do the same.
The government is giving grants of £10,000 each to 50 schools which have achieved the biggest reductions in truancy.
They will be expected to spend the money on staff cover so teachers can visit other schools to pass on their experience.
They will also be encouraged to hold local seminars for other teachers, or to set up websites explaining their policies for other schools to follow.
The scheme was announced by Education Minister Estelle Morris at a conference on the government's strategy to cut truancy rates in schools by a third by 2002.
It is estimated that currently one million pupils are absent from schools without permission for at least half a day each year.
Ms Morris unveiled a document bringing together government policies to cut truancy.
A £500m three-year programme includes projects to improve schools registration with the use of electronic registers and swipe cards to record attendance.
Other schemes to fight disaffection among pupils include new work-related courses for children who have given up on learning, learning mentors and support units in schools for disruptive children.
The government is also proposing to increase fines to a maximum of £5,000 for parents who do not make sure their children attend school.