A PIONEERING anti-truancy campaign has been credited with cutting the amount of unauthorised school leave in Sunderland by 16%.

The Every School Day Counts initiative is a joint partnership between Hays Travel and Sunderland City Council. Over the last three years Hays Travel has spent more than £200,000 of its own money on the campaign.

The scheme has won praise from the Government and local councils for offering discounts to families during school holidays.

Hays Travel marketing manager Helen Curran said the agency is committed to running the campaign for at least two more years and was now working with nine councils in the northeast.

She said: “The scheme has been recognised in Parliament and other councils came to us.

“We fund the discounts ourselves and it comes off our bottom line. The feedback from families has been very positive and makes the difference
between them booking a holiday in the Mediterranean or a more expensive trip to Florida.”

Sunderland’s marketing officer for the campaign, Alex Haswell, said: “The partnership with Hays Travel had been very successful in decreasing truancy. We are looking for at least a 10% reduction each year.”

The Hays Travel scheme was a forerunner to the Government campaign supported by ABTA, the Federation of Tour Operators and EnjoyEngland called Every Lesson Counts.

Operators in more than 80 local authorities offer discounts to families and ABTA members promote offers within normal school holiday periods.

On the web: Every School Day Counts strategy document from Gateshead Council (PDF)