A CRACKDOWN on youngsters skipping school is beginning to deliver an improvement in attendance records in Middlesbrough schools.

Latest figures have shown that attendance in schools for the past school year was almost 91 per cent -a rise of just over 1.5 per cent from the previous year.

Parents of pupils who regularly play truant can face a fine, community punishment or even jail if their children's attendance does not improve.

Every week, education social workers search the town centre and other potential hotspots targeting school-age children.

With the help of the police, they challenge children who are without an adult and take them back to school if the youngsters cannot provide a valid reason for their absence.

Councillor Paul Thompson, executive member for education and skills, said: "We are getting the message across to youngsters who truant that they will not get away with it.

"We are making it equally clear to parents that they have a responsibility to get their child to school on time every day, and if they fail to do that, they will get very little sympathy.

"We take the education and prospects of Middlesbrough's young people very seriously - they should do the same."

Parents with school-age children are also challenged, and if they do not have a good reason for not having their child in school, their case is followed up and they could face a £50 fine or prosecution.

The council gave out 60 fines last year.