A REVAMP of the school curriculum may be one way to stop bored pupils playing truant, it was suggested last night.

The claim came in the wake of figures showing record truancy levels, with 55,000 pupils skipping classes during the past school year.

Local education authorities in Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland have unauthorised absence rates higher than the national average, despite a number of initiatives to tackle the problem.

John Heslop, regional officer with the National Association of Head Teachers, said the majority of truants were over 14 and suggested a more "attractive menu" from the curriculum was needed.

Mr Heslop said: "I do wonder whether what is on offer to 14-plus-year-olds and older is as relevant as it needs to be for those youngsters who are not, either by inclination or ability, of an academic calibre.

"A baccalaureate approach, with more use of diplomas and a greater versatility in the curriculum, may work better to maintain pupil interest."

Such an approach, replacing the GSCE and A-level set-up, was suggested in a report last year by former chief inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson.

But the Government failed to implement fully the suggested reforms and instead "cherry-picked" aspects of the report, said Mr Heslop.

Meanwhile, Michelle Elliot, from children's charity Kidscape, said parents needed to take more responsibility for their children if they were truanting, but go about it in the right way without alienating them.

The charity is involved with the KidsOK mobile phone service, which allows parents to locate their child and see if they are still in school without the need to call or text them.

Tracking technology means parents subscribing to the service can establish the location of their child's mobile phone within 60 seconds.

For details of the service, go to www.kidsok.net