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Suspended schoolboys ‘used social media’ to buy drugs

Six boys have been suspended from Campbell College in east Belfast after being caught on the private school grounds using cannabis bought over social media.

The pupils are all aged between 13 and 16 and were suspended shortly before Easter, immediately after the discovery and in line with school policy.

Headmaster Robert Robinson has told UTV that both the PSNI and the Education Authority say they have witnessed a surge in drugs use by teenagers.

And, as Vicki Hawthorne reports, he wants to tackle the issue head on.

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Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor signs letter warning over Brexit

The Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast has signed a letter to President of the European Council warning any Brexit settlement which makes it more difficult for universities to work together across international borders “would be harmful”.

Professor Patrick Johnston, along with three other VCs from a group representing 25 universities across the UK, have written to Donald Tusk ahead of the European Council meeting of the 27 EU leaders on Saturday.

In the letter they say “both UK and EU science will be stronger if we continue to work together”.

They add their support to Mr Tusk's intention to make reciprocal rights for EU and UK nationals a priority and urge him to work to continue existing ties and protect working relationships in order to ensure continued research collaboration.

School heads refuse to implement budget cuts

Dozens of headteachers have signed a letter to Secretary of State James Brokenshire saying that they will not implement a planned budget cut announced earlier this week.

Forty-three school principals insist they simply cannot deliver a 2.5% budget reduction - that represents a £50m cut in schools spending - and that they're prepared to go into the red.

Within the letter the principals claim that "the budgets being passed on this year are grossly inadequate, even within the current climate of austerity"

They say: "To be clear, we are not asking merely for the 2.5% cut announced by yourself to be reversed; this in itself will still result in inadequate budgets that, if implemented will have a direct and extremely negative impact on all our pupils."

The school heads have also sent letter to parents asking for their support in this move which they describe as "unprecedented".

They have also written to the Education Authority appealing for its backing.

Those behind the letters are confident that other schools will join them in refusing to implement the budget.

Jackie Wallace, Principal of Stranmillis Primary School in Belfast told UTV: “If we were to implement the £60,000 deficit, then that would be either the loss of four classroom assistants, or the loss of the special needs provision within the school.

“Neither of those situations is tolerable, it would mean that we would not be able to deliver on our statutory provision for the children, we would not be able to meet their needs and certainly as a group of 43 principals, we’re saying we’re not prepared to do that.”

A spokesman for the Secretary of State said that the indicative budget figures were based on guidance from the Northern Ireland Civil Service and that James Brokenshire remains committed to seeing an Executive back up and running.

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