Children As Young As 4 Among 4,084 Suspended Last Year

Four and five-year-old children are among a rising number of pupils being suspended at schools across Northern Ireland, a report from the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) has found.

In the academic year 2016-17, 4084 pupils of compulsory school age were suspended, with around three times more boys than girls facing the disciplinary measure.

The ETI noted that "alarmingly", 286 were of primary school age, with 74 in primary one or two.

Among the main reasons for the sanctions was repeated infringement of school rules.
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The ETI's biennial report, Learning Lessons: Inspiring People: Putting Learners First, was published on Wednesday 27 and highlights challenging times in the education sector, noting a recent Audit Office report finding that the general schools' budget has fallen in real terms by 9.3% from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

The power-sharing government at Stormont has been suspended since January 2017, leaving senior civil servants in charge of departments in the absence of ministers.

The report mentioned the lack of an Education Minister as a restriction that is creating "further uncertainty, delay and frustration".

Also raised was the statistic that a fifth of children entering NI primary schools are overweight. This figure rises to one in four by secondary school.

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