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Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many pupils were excluded from schools in each education and library board area as a result of violence or threatening behaviour in each of the last three years for which figures are available. 
Angela E. Smith: The reasons for suspension were first collected in 2002/03 school year and relate to the number of individual suspensions not the number of pupils suspended. The reason for a suspension is categorised by a school into one often possibilities.
|Physical attack on staff||75||99||91||64||36||365|
|Verbal abuse of staff||385||382||459||366||434||2,026|
|Physical attack on pupil||293||392||434||347||387||1,853|
|Verbal abuse of pupil||17||14||42||49||29||151|
|Bullying of pupil||53||52||66||57||61||289|
The detailed suspension data for 2003/04 submitted by the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) has still to be fully analysed. When this has been done in the near future, I will write to the hon. Member and provide the SELB statistics. The 4-Board information for 2003/04 school year is as follows:
|Physical attack on staff||73||72||49||79||n/a||273|
|Verbal abuse of staff||473||486||534||352||n/a||1,845|
|Physical attack on pupil||400||353||521||345||n/a||1,619|
|Verbal abuse of pupil||22||46||43||23||n/a||134|
|Bullying of pupil||73||64||84||49||n/a||270|
Angela E. Smith: Compared to other modes, travelling to school by bus is already a safe means of transport. However, the issue of safety on school buses is currently under consideration by the Department of the Environment in its assessment of the four key recommendations of the Northern Ireland Assembly's inquiry into home to school transport. It is expected that the findings of this work, which is being carried out in partnership with the Department for Regional Development and the Department of Education, will be published later this year.
Furthermore, Education and Library Boards (ELBs) have been working towards the goal of providing seat belts on all new ELB vehicles in accordance with legislative requirements. At current rates this will take at least six years. To date, seat belts have been fitted on 63 per cent. of ELB vehicles.
6 Jul 2005 : Column 499W
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the cost of the removal of the policy of three for two seating on school buses by education and library boards. 
Angela E. Smith: Three Education and Library Boards no longer apply the three-for-two seating arrangement. The estimated capital cost in the remaining Western and South Eastern Boards is some £1.2 million for the purchase of an additional 16 new vehicles (eight per board).
Angela E. Smith: The introduction of a no standing" policy in relation to school bus transport is one of the issues currently under consideration by the Department of the Environment in its assessment of the four key recommendations of the Northern Ireland Assembly's inquiry into home to school transport. This assessment, which also investigates the abolition of 3 for 2", the fitting of seat belts and the provision of improved signage and lighting, will include a detailed analysis of the costs of implementing these recommendations.
It is expected that the findings of this work, which is being carried out in partnership with the Department for Regional Development and the Department of Education, will be published later this year.
Angela E. Smith: The general aim of local deaf education is to teach deaf and hearing impaired children to speak wherever possible. This happens with hearing impaired children in mainstream schools and special education units for the hearing impaired, attached to those schools. Occasionally, a child attending a unit needs to be taught, at least partly, through the medium of sign language and this would be provided by the teacher and classroom assistant, where appropriate.
The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, addresses deafness as a disability in a number of ways in the revised curriculum. It will be more holistic and flexible, with greater emphasis on real-world skills, such as communication, and a specific element of Learning for Life and Work. Legislation will be in place by September 2006 and the revised curriculum will be introduced on a phased basis stretching to 2009/10.
Angela E. Smith: The Department provides £1 million under the Additional Support Fund in further education which, among other things, can be used to provide assistance towards the cost of sign language interpreters. It is impossible, however, to disaggregate the actual amount spent specifically for this facility.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which members of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs have an expertise in (a) schizophrenia, (b) neurology and (c) toxicology; and what the extent of that expertise is in each case. 
Members are appointed on the basis of their individual qualities, expertise and knowledge. The extent of this expertise and knowledge is reflected in the fact that they are leading experts in their respective fields.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reasons he has restricted the investigation of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs into only the stronger varieties of cannabis. 
Paul Goggins: The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has been asked by the Home Secretary to consider the recent studies into links and associations between taking any strength of cannabis and the development of mental health problems. The ACMD will consider these studies in terms of its overall assessment of the classification of cannabis. The ACMD has also been directed to consider the reports of increased prevalence of cannabis with high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC).
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