EDUCATION Welfare officers and the police were out on patrol during school hours challenging parents with school-age children and unaccompanied children.

Hotspots in Barnsley town centre such as the interchange, Cheapside shopping precinct, the new Barnsley Market , Peel square, Mandela Gardens and Alhambra Centre were all visited by the patrol as part of a pre-Christmas truancy initiative.

In total, 28 children were stopped and challenged on their reasons for absence from school, and reminded of the importance of school attendance.

14 were primary school age and 14 were secondary school age. Eight secondary school children were unaccompanied whilst the other 20 we’re all accompanied by an adult.

Coun Tim Cheetham said: “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 the pupils and parents challenged were given a leaflet to explain the reason for the sweep and, reminded about the importance of good school attendance where the absence was for medical reasons, they were advised to return to school as soon as the appointment was completed,

“Enabling Barnsley residents to achieve their potential is one of the council’s priorities, and full-time attendance at school or other learning environments is fundamental to this. Parents, carers and children themselves all have their part to play.”