(UK) Thousands of SPED kids put in isolation in school; practice questioned

Updated: Apr 20, 2019

April 15, 2019, The Week: Should isolation in schools be banned? The practice of secluding pupils has dramatically increased in recent years but has received sustained criticism …In a letter to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, the 16-year-old described how she had spent every school day from mid-January to March this year kept apart from other pupils in an isolation suite…. Her mother estimated to the programme that her daughter was placed in an isolation booth at her secondary school more than 240 times in total. The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, told the BBC that school isolation can be “distressing and degrading” and she has concerns it is being used “as a gateway to excluding and off-rolling”, a practice in which pupils are informally excluded and removed from a school's register…. Isolation rooms, or internal inclusion units, are facilities within schools where pupils can be sent if it is thought they need to be removed from a classroom as a result of disruptive behaviour. Often they feature booth-like barriers to stop children from interacting with others…. According to a BBC investigation last year, more than 200 pupils spent at least five consecutive days in isolation booths in schools in England in 2018. Alongside this, more than 5,000 children with special educational needs also attended isolation rooms at some stage…. "When you’re a lone adult with a class of 25 pupils, it only takes two people to really persistently wilfully misbehave for that lesson to be completely detonated,” he told the BBC in November. Indeed it is “perfectly sensible to remove some students from the mainstream classroom environment – the students who cannot uphold behaviour expectations – for two simple reasons”, Caroline Barlow, head of Heathfield Community College in East Sussex, told TES in the same month…. The motion read: “The increasing use of detention, isolation and exclusion, often talked of as being ‘zero-tolerance’ approaches, usually mean ignoring the varied difficulties children have, in favour of punishment. We believe that, above all else, children need support, respect and love.”