Schools in the United Kingdom have begun converting toilet blocks and classrooms to build isolation booths to hold “punished” students, while campaigners warn that regular use of this practice can lead to disrupting a pupil’s mental health.
What We Know:
- England’s Children Commissioner, Anne Longfield, said she has heard a variety of stories from children’s experiences in the isolation booths. More often than not, students would explain how they were put in isolation repeatedly for days or even weeks at a time. In addition to this, some described the punishment as “distressing and degrading”, while the rest simply slept as there was nothing else to do.
- Some headteachers argue that if well-run, this sort of punishment will create a disruption free environment for other students. Ruth Robinson, a school leader from Swindon, created a Twitter thread describing her school. Though booths were not used, only 10-15 out of 900 students on average spent the day in their own dedicated isolation room.
A thread about Isolation and Booths…
We have almost 900 students at our school. We serve the two most deprived wards in our town. Over 50% of the school population are eligible for Pupil Premium. Our cohorts are predominantly white British.
— Ruth Robinson (@RuthKRobinson) January 3, 2020
- Longfield conducted her own research last October to find out how widespread the use of isolation booths were and the type of children affected in response. This rose disquiet among parents and mental health campaigners.
- Although there are no official figures, a BBC investigation stated “more than 200 pupils spent at least five straight days in isolation booths in schools in England last year”.
A conference dubbed “Lose the Booths” has been organized for next weekend to encourage change and get rid of booth practice.