Authorities are taking a hard line on children skipping school.

The number of fines for unauthorised absences in the Braintree district this academic year has already exceeded last year’s total, with 46 penalty notices issued, compared with 38 in 2012/13.

They include 21 for truancy and 25 for holidays taken during term-time.

The 2012/13 total included 17 for truancy and 21 for holidays taken during term-time.

Penalty notices are £60 if paid within 21 days, but rise to £120 after that.

If a fine is not paid within 28 days the parent could face prosecution.

A spokesman for Essex County Council, which runs the county’s education welfare service, said: “Parents have a legal duty to ensure regular school attendance for their children who are registered at a school.

“Essex County Council is committed to ensuring children receive a suitable education and issues penalty notices and uses legal processes where appropriate to achieve this aim.”