HALF of pupils at a troubled school stayed away on the first day back since an intruder attacked a pupil with a baseball bat.

And, after around 500 children failed to attend Hameldon Community College, Byron Street, Burnley, today, the town's council leader told the county council to "sort it out".

But a spokesman for the county council said that Hameldon - which was put into special measures after inspectors found the school to be failing earlier this year - "had returned to calm very quickly".

He partly blamed the high number of absences on the festive period and illness.

Police also sent a message of reassurance to parents, saying they believed the baseball bat attack was a one-off incident.

Education bosses said that just 52 per cent of the 1,050-pupil school turned up yesterday.

The police community beat manager and support officer patrolled outside Hameldon at the start and end of the day.

In addition, pupils who turned up were given letters for parents, explaining what had happened on Friday and also containing a message of reassurance over safety concerns.

Police were called to the college on Friday lunchtime after an intruder entered the premises and started fighting with a 15-year-old student.

A second intruder then stepped from a large crowd of watching pupils and hit the youngster over the head with a baseball bat, according to police.

Both attackers then fled from the school.

Four boys have since been arrested, two aged 15, and one each aged 16 and 17.

They have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Of those arrested, one was a former pupil and two are current pupils.

A pupil was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital for treatment and is now recovering at home.

Police Chief Inspector John Puttock said he wanted to reassure parents who kept their children away.

He said: "Following the incident on Friday at the college four individuals have been arrested and are currently on police bail pending the outcome of further enquiries.

"In response to the incident the local community support officer and community beat manager have provided a visible presence in the immediate vicinity of the school at the beginning and end of the day to provide reassurance to students and to parents who may have been unaware of the circumstances that led to the incident.

"Over recent months there have been no like incidents involving disputes between current or ex students requiring police attendance."

But a parent from the South West Burnley area, who has a 15-year-old daughter at the school, said she had kept her child away from school because she feared for her safety.

She said: "I decided not to send her to school today because of what had happened on Friday.

"We had also heard from other parents that something was due to kick off today and thought it best to keep her at home.

"I will probably keep her off school until the middle of the week if the school can reassure us that she will be safe.

"I don't think the school can come back from this.

"There have been problems since the school opened and I doubt they will stop.

"I'm not sure what the school can do to improve the situation but they need to prove to parents that it is safe to send children."

The county council spokesman confirmed attendance at the school was 52 per cent.

He said: "Whilst some of this is down to the incident on Friday, some of the absences are also due to the holidays and illnesses.

"We break up at midday on Wednesday and it is normal for people to take children out a few days early.

"The school returned to calm very quickly and we are committed to making it safe."

The leader of Burnley Council Gordon Birtwistle urged the county council to get involved and "stop passing the blame".

He said: "I understand that the school was improving after it went in to special measures and there has been a long period up until now were they haven't had a lot of problems.

"The school is under county council control and it's up to them to sort it out.

"As a borough council we can do very little.

"County councillor Marcus Johnstone needs to get his act together and sort it out.

"The headmistress has a lack of support.

"Parents want a quality school with a quality education in a safe environment.

"The county council should be committed to providing this at Hameldon but they are struggling to do this at the moment.

"The staff are doing their best but the county council needs to get involved rather than blaming everybody but themselves."

County Coun Johnstone hit back and said he refuted Coun Birtwistle's comments.

He said: "We have had people in the school on Monday and we are working very closely to support them and we will continue to work with them.

"The school has not been left to flounder and I refute that accusation.

"Gordon doesn't understand the situation because schools run schools, not the county council.

"We can't intervene. That would not be helpful."

Hameldon was launched under the Building Schools for the Future scheme last year and replaced Ivy Bank and Habergham High schools.