A PATROL of skiving hotspots by Barnsley Council during a school day last year found five unaccompanied primary aged children out of school.

The transport interchange, Cheapside shopping precinct, Mandela Gardens and Alhambra Centre were visited by a patrol made up of education welfare officers and police officers during a school day in November.

The council says the aim was to stop and challenge parents with school-age children and unaccompanied children to raise awareness of the importance of school attendance.

In total, 30 children were stopped and challenged on their reasons for absence from school. Of those, 15 were primary school age and 15 were secondary school age.

Five of the primary school children were unaccompanied. Three of the 30 children attended schools outside of the borough and another three were being home educated.

Coun. Tim Cheetham, Cabinet spokesperson for People (Achieving Potential), explained: “Where parents claimed their children were not fit for school, discussions took place about the appropriateness of the child being out of the home when unwell.

“All relevant schools were informed by the patrol officers that the parent and child had been stopped so the school could make a decision whether to authorise the child’s absence, or record it as unauthorised. In addition, the school’s education welfare officer was informed so that follow-up action could take place as required.”

A council spokesperson added: "The reasons given by parents and pupils who were stopped were varied - pupils were on alternative or reduced provision, awaiting school transfers, three children were being home educated or on a school inset day from another authority, as well as general illness and medical appointments."