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You're closer to class with a text

The use of "SMS" - or text messaging through mobile phones - is the latest medium being used to chase absent students.

"SMS technology is being used in a positive way, helping to keep students in education - this must be a benefit to all in our community," says Stephen McCann, managing director at Cy-nap, the firm which is providing the technology.

"This isn't just more technology in use," he adds, "it's a real attempt to bring staff and students closer together."

A more effective way of bringing at least some students "closer" to staff, of course, is withholding their educational maintenance allowance when they don't turn up, as the Department for Education and Skills has already worked out.

But financial penalties seem harsh when in other public services staff, who are actually paid to turn up, are increasingly being offered incentives not to throw a sicky. Let's hope commonsense prevails and Cy-nap's gentler approach catches on.

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