ESSEX County Council is amongst a pool of local authorities which have compensated families more than £45,000 for failing to educate school children on long-term leave.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has fined dozens of councils since 2015 for flouting statutory guidance which says schools must provide suitable education to a child away from the classroom for 15 days or more - for illness or other reasons.

The county council has been fined twice, in 2017 and 2018, amounting to £4,475, which included £500 for the “extra strain” placed on one child’s mother.

Newsquest’s Data Unit found complaints about a lack of education provision have risen year on year - from 37 in 2015/16 to 50 in 2017/18 - with the number of complaints upheld having almost doubled from seven to 13.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The fines for the two cases mentioned were because the local authority did not feel the medical evidence provided supported the request to provide alternative provision for the pupil in question.

"Following the decision of the ombudsman, the council has reflected on its comments and is in the process of rewriting and sharing with schools our new approach to responding to pupils with medical needs.

“Our current and revised practice is to be much more pupil rather than process-led."