Twelve primary one pupils were among thousands suspended from schools across Northern Ireland - some for attacks on teachers, an investigation has found.
Investigative website The Detail found over 4,000 pupils were suspended during the last academic year.
The P1 pupils were suspended a total of 15 times. In eight instances the reason given was for physical attacks on teachers.
Freedom of Information requests show 6,805 suspensions were made in the 2019/17 year meaning pupils were out of school for over 15,500 days. Over 1,000 suspensions were for the maximum five-day period, 115 from primary schools. Seventeen schools suspended 50 or more pupils and 11 handed out more than 100 suspensions.
The majority - 93% - of suspensions were for those in secondary school with 77% involving boys and 75% in non-grammar schools.
Of the 1,061 schools involved in the survey, 721 did not suspend any pupil.
There were 33 expulsions with at least one being from a primary school. Reasons behind those expulsions included persistent offending, attacks on staff or teachers and drug abuse.
One principal told The Detail they had worked to "dramatically" reduce the number of suspensions in their school through the use of restorative justice practices.
The Northern Ireland’s Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma described the figures as “very disturbing”. She also highlighted how schools should drop their internal or informal suspension process.
She also called for an end to the use of internal or informal suspensions by some schools which are not included in official suspension statistics and which fall outside Department of Education guidelines