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Parents in northern England will be given electronic pagers so teachers can let them know at once if their children are playing truant, the Education Ministry said Tuesday.

The pilot plan in the City of Durham is part of a $37 million government scheme to reduce truancy and stop schools from having to expel troublesome pupils.

"This government is serious about tackling truancy and indiscipline within schools," said Stephen Byers, the minister responsible for school standards.

More than one million British students are estimated to have skipped their classes at least once, while in 1995-96, 12,500 were expelled, according to official figures.

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