SWIPE cards could be introduced at Worcestershire schools to stop pupils skipping lessons.

The Government plans to introduce "e-registration" at 500 secondary schools in England to help teachers keep tabs on errant youngsters.

Worcestershire County Council will be asked to nominate schools where truancy is a problem.

The individual schools will then be asked if they wish to take part in the £11.25m scheme.

Headteachers will be able to choose between different technology, including swipe cards, hand-held registration pads or computer-based systems.

Education Secretary Estelle Morris said trials had shown that e-registration could cut truancy levels by 10 per cent within two years.

It cut the amount of time teachers spent monitoring pupils, because they no longer had to manually record attendance twice a day.

Persistent truants were spotted more quickly and less time was spent contacting parents to ask them to explain unauthorised absences.

Where pupils were skipping school after registration, the new technology would allow teachers to check attendance on a lesson-by-lesson basis.

Ms Morris said: There are too many children around 50,000 every day who are missing school without good reason. This can only damage their life chances.

Not only does the use of modern technology in monitoring absence act preventatively to reduce the number of lost days, it also frees teachers from the burden of time wasted on checking up with parents.

This £11.5m project will target 500 of the secondary schools we and local education authorities see as facing the toughest truancy problems.

Schools taking part in the scheme to be introduced from next April have been promised extra funding from the Government.