Jan 18, 2020, iNews, London: Schools are needlessly placing pupils in isolation booths amid cuts to teaching assistants, warns union leader https://inews.co.uk/news/schools-are-needlessly-placing-pupils-in-isolation-booths-amid-cuts-to-teaching-assistants-warns-union-leader-1369239 Schools are placing pupils in isolation booths as they suffer from the axing of support staff caused by government cuts, the head teachers' union leader warns. Geoff Barton, general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said austerity measures have hit the vulnerable in education, meaning teachers are being forced to take desperate measures when dealing with difficult pupils. Teaching assistants have been the first to vanish from classrooms, meaning children with learning difficulties are sent to 'isolation' or 'time out' rooms, instead of receiving support, he told i…. Mr Barton, a former headteacher of 15 years, told i: “The loss of teaching assistants to work with young people one-to-one and in smaller groups means inevitably the range of options available to leaders in schools if there’s a charge of misbehaviour, has narrowed…. School budgets have been slashed in real-terms by £7.7bn since 2011-2012, official figures show. The Government says it is investing £14bn in schools, and £780m in high-needs funding next year. Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, spoke out over the “distressing and degrading” experience of isolation rooms on Friday, amid fears they are raising mental health issues for vulnerable pupils. “Often parents, especially those with children with special educational needs, will talk to me about how their children are always being put in isolation booths,” she added…. Route to exclusions Ms Longfield fears isolation can lead to temporary or permanent exclusion. However, Mr Barton said exclusion or referral to a Pupil Referral Unit are often “the final tool in the armoury” for teachers. “If you’ve got someone who is persistently disruptive, you have to do something that shows to others that it’s not acceptable - there’s a symbolism to [isolation rooms],” he explained….