A PRIMARY school is sending out early-morning text messages to parents in a bid to make sure children are in class on time.
The school is also offering a 10 Morrisons voucher in a prize draw as an incentive for parents to make sure they get their children into class before the bell at 9am.
The measures were introduced by Lynnfield Primary School, in Grosvenor Street, Hartlepool, after more than 20 children were reporting late for school most days.
Marian Fairley, who took over as headteacher at the school in September, said their attendance figures were possibly the worst in Hartlepool, and that children and parents must realise how important it is to be in the classroom on time every morning.
Mrs Fairley said: "We have had our first full term at the school this year and some days we are getting 25 children late, some of them aren't turning up until 9.30am.
"It is vital children are in school on time to start the day and we are trying our very best to make sure that happens."
The school already has a text message system set up to alert parents of any important issues.
And Mrs Fairley said that sending alarm messages will not cost the school any more because they pay an initial fee up-front for a text service.
Children who are late must now be signed in with a reason by the adult bringing them to school.
And after the bell rings at 9am, the outside doors will shut, meaning the only access will be through the school's front door.
The doors for the nursery will now close at 8.45am.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond has given his backing to the changes.
He said: "I can imagine how frustrating it must be for staff when children are late for school and I think this is an innovative idea.
"I would certainly applaud the school for looking at new ways of getting children into school on time."
A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: "We support any initiative that encourages punctuality and school attendance.
"Lots of schools now use modern technology methods such as texting to communicate key messages and information to parents, providing they have their permission to do so."
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Parents are legally responsible for ensuring that their children, who are registered at school, attend regularly and failure to do so could result in a prosecution.
"It is crucial that children are not missing out on valuable lessons that could leave them vulnerable to falling behind."