More than 50 parents have been taken to court and hundreds more have been fined for taking their children out of school without permission.

In the five months since the beginning the academic year Essex County Council has fined 647 parents a total of £23,100 for unauthorised absences.

Of these 51 were prosecuted in court and were ordered to pay the county council £5,920 in costs.

Fines for the 2012/13 academic year totalled £26,650 and this year’s rise has been put down to a county council crackdown.

Since September 2013 schools have only been able to approve absences for exceptional circumstances and if a prior application has been made.

Although by law the police and headteachers can issue the penalty notices, Essex County Council has asked that they do not.