Local schools suspend 12 unruly pupils a week - Report

SCHOOLS in the Southern Education and Library Board Area, which includes the Cookstown District, have suspended a total of 616 pupils in the past year for abusive or violent behaviour.

The figures released by the Department of Education reveal the reasons why schools were forced to use the most extreme sanctions available to them.

Misbehaving pupils were found to have verbally abused staff, persistently broken school rules, attacked other pupils or staff, damaged school property, stolen and consumed alcohol or drugs.

The good news is that the number of suspensions has been declining consistently since 2006, when there were 954 suspensions in the local board area.

Controlled secondary schools fared the worst in terms of bad behaviour, with 1386 suspensions in the past year, compared to 1194 in the maintained sector. Grammar schools had a total of 64 suspensions.

Across Northern Ireland, the three most common reasons for expulsion were physical attacks on a pupil accounting for 25.0% of expulsions, persistent infringement of school rules (20.8%) and disruptive behaviour in class (20.8%).

Alarmingly, whereas more boys are sanctioned for violent or abusive behaviour, more girls are suspended because of alcohol abuse. 25 female pupils were sanctioned for consuming alcohol, compared to 16 boys.

Information on pupil suspensions and expulsions is collected annually from the Education and Library Boards.

In the 2011/12 school year, there was a total of 24 expulsions across Northern Ireland.

The majority of the pupils expelled were male and of post-primary age, with 62.5% of the total of pupils expelled from Key Stage 3.