PARENTS across Essex were issued with more than 10,000 penalty notices for children not attending school – the second highest in the country.

A Freedom of Information request found the number of penalty notices issued for unauthorised absences during 2018/19 had risen.

In Essex, 10,848 notices were issued during the 12 months – up 24.2 per cent on the previous year.

In 2017/18 the county also recorded the second highest number of unauthorised school absences in the country with 8,732.

Essex County Council collected £522,540 in revenue from the notices issued in 2018/19, up from £428,220 in 2017/18.

It was the second highest revenue from notices, beaten only by Derbyshire which collected £637,879.

Parents can be issued with a penalty notice if their child misses school without permission.

Reasons include truancy and holidays in term time.

The fines are £60 per child, per parent, if you pay within 21 days and £120 per child, per parent, if you pay within 28 days.

Those who don’t pay the fine after 28 days can face prosecution.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “Parents have a legal duty to ensure their children attend school regularly in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school.

“Essex County Council has a statutory duty to ensure this legal obligation is fulfilled but it is the expectation schools will initially work with parents, carers and support agencies to improve a child’s school attendance, accessing all appropriate early intervention programmes and working together to improve and sustain attendance.”

“Every lesson really does count and it is important parents send their child to school so they can access all the educational opportunities and experiences and get the best start to academic life.”