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Schools (Suspensions/Expulsions)

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many pupils were (a) suspended and (b) expelled for (i) violent behaviour and (ii) drug-related incidents in Northern Ireland schools in each of the last 10 years; (102360)

(2) how many illegal drug-related incidents occurred in schools in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years.

The Department does not hold information on the reasons for suspension and expulsion for each of the last 10 years. Nor does it collect specific data on drugs but statistics are available for the number of suspensions from schools for possessing, using or dealing in illegal drugs or solvents on school premises.

From the 2002-03 school year, statistics on the reasons for suspensions have been gathered annually and relate to the number of individual suspensions not to the number of pupils suspended. With regard to violent behaviour, the Department collects statistics on the number of suspensions relating to physical attacks on staff, illustrated in the following table. In 2002-03, data on substance abuse were combined with data on alcohol abuse, however from 2003-04 substance abuse was identified separately.

Table 1: Suspensions

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

Physical attacks on staff

365

320

262

Substance abuse

1426

421

286

1 Includes alcohol abuse

The reasons for expulsion were first collected in 2003-04. The Department collects statistics on the number of expulsions relating to physical attacks on staff. Again, specific data for drugs were not collected, however there are statistics available for suspensions for possessing, using or dealing illegal drugs and solvents on school premises. In 2003-04, data on substance abuse were combined with data on alcohol abuse, however in 2004-05 substance abuse was identified separately.

Table 2: Expulsions

2003-04

2004-05

Physical attacks on staff

7

7

Substance abuse

114

10

1 Includes alcohol abuse.

Each year, data on suspensions and expulsions requested from the Education and Library Boards have become more comprehensive and, from the 2002-03 school year the Department has been publishing this information on its website, www.deni.gov.uk.