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Concerns for 'under-achieving' coastal schools

Many of our coastal communities are struggling with high levels of under-achievement, as figures in the recently released school performance tables revealed.

Levels of attainment in some of our seaside towns lags way behind national targets.

In some schools the percentage of pupils gaining five good GCSE grades including English and Maths is in single figures.

Coastal classrooms are a focus for growing concern - our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford has this special report exploring what's gone wrong, and how we fix it.

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The south's parents are fined thousands of pounds for taking children out of school

Kent, West Sussex and Surrey Councils are some of the highest in the country for fining parents over unauthorised school leave. Stricter government guidelines came in two years ago that made it harder to take children out of school during term time, to crack down on absence.

Many families say they can't afford to go away during school holidays Credit: ITV News Meridian

Since fines were introduced the number given out has trebled, with tens of thousands handed out last year alone. Here's a snapshot of the numbers of fines issued across the South.

  • Kent 4,366 fines
  • West Sussex 2,402 fines
  • East Sussex 2,131 fines
  • Surrey 1904
  • Wiltshire 736 fines
  • Brighton 726 fines
  • Southampton 677 fines
  • Poole 316 fines
  • Reading 170 fines
  • West Berkshire163 fines

Families can be charged up to £120 per child for unauthorised absence. Many parents argue they would rather pay the fine and take a holiday when its cheaper than pay a premium for trips during the school holidays.

The Local Government Association has called for change saying the system is unfair and calling for Headteachers to have greater flexibilty. However Schools Minister Nick Gibb has been quick to defend the rules saying missing school can affect grades.

Proms in full swing

More than 90 per cent of schools hold some kind of prom for pupils after completing their GCSE exams. For many, it's a fitting reward for all their hard work. But it comes with an increasingly high price tag as parents fork out for dresses, transport, hairdos and makeup. Christine Alsford reports on all the fun, expense - and how many schools are now making attendance at prom conditional on good behaviour and hard work.

Her reports were filmed at the Mousetrap Dress shop in Havant - and at the prom for Woodlands Community College in Southampton.

Prom King and Queen Credit: ITV Meridian

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Schools must do more to help young diabetics

Schools must do more to support young people living with Type 1 Diabetes, according to a survey carried out by the charity Diabetes UK.

The illness is incurable and can have devastating effects if it's not effectively managed.

Now, to mark Diabetes Week, a helpline is being launched to advise parents how to make sure their children get the care they need while they're at school.

Malcolm Shaw spoke to Archie Norris, who has the disease, his father Simon, and Libby Dowling of Diabetes UK.

More academies - change for the better?

Every failing school across the South East will be forced to become an academy under new rules proposed by the government today. At the moment there has to be local consultation before conversion but that will be scrapped.

It means 16 schools in Kent graded as "inadequate" by Ofsted will be targeted - plus another four in Medway and seven across Sussex. Another seven on the Isle of Wight will be handed over to sponsors to improve their performance - plus a further five in Reading and three in Oxfordshire. So-called "coasting schools" where pupils may do well - but don't make as much progress as they should will also be targeted.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports

South's failing schools to be turned into academies

Failing schools across the South will be forced to turn into academies under new rules announced by the government.

Up to a thousand primary and secondary schools nationwide could be taken out of local government control if the new bill goes ahead. Critics say the proposals are undemocratic. Eastbrook Primary at Southwick in Sussex became an academy two years ago. Since then, results have improved dramatically. Here's what the headteacher Julia Sherlock had to say.

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