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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 18:15 GMT
Failing schools are given warning
Pupils sitting exams
Schools face sanctions if they are not performing
Schools in Northern Ireland which do not come up to standard could close if they do not improve, the Department of Education has said.

A deadline of a year and a half is being suggested by the department.

The government is concerned that failing schools appear to be "rewarded" for their faults by getting extra money and support.

It has published a list of sanctions which will kick in if improvements do not happen within 18 months.

These include sacking the management team and closing down the school.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane said this would be a last resort.

"I hope we don't have to do that, but if we do we will," Ms Ruane said.

"But let's try and work with all the different schools and make sure that every child is given the opportunity that they need and deserve."

The department has said only a small number of schools is at risk of failing pupils and parents and in those cases "early and purposeful interventions are essential".

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