A TRAVEL agent hopes to help improve school attendance rates by offering discounts on family holidays taken during official school breaks.

Hays Travel is offering the incentive in association with the Stockton Stars project, which aims to improve attendance in primary and comprehensive schools in the Stockton and Thornaby area.

About 5,000 pupils will be offered vouchers entitling them to ten per cent off holidays booked in the Stockton branch. They will also be valid in the Billingham store when it opens later this year.

Hays Travel managing director John Hays said: "If it can help increase school attendance, and at the same time give families a helping hand to get an annual holiday, then it will have proved very worthwhile."

Stockton Stars is funded by Thornaby Excellence in Cities and the Stockton Behaviour Education Support Team.

Elaine Kerr, Stars Attendance Project Worker, said: "Research shows that children taken out of school for holidays often never catch up on work they have missed and this dramatically affects their progress. "