THE Children’s Commissioner for England has said that more schools are converting toilet blocks and classrooms to build isolation booths.
Cubicles that block pupils from being able to talk to each other have become common in schools, and some teachers don’t think that’s a good thing. The booths are spaces where pupils sit in silence for hours as punishment for breaking school rules and for disruptive behaviour.
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has said that she is conducting research to find out just how much the cubicles are being used, and says she has already heard “horror stories” about children’s experiences in isolation booths.
The Commissioner said that some pupils had been in isolation for days or weeks, sometimes with nothing to do.
The Centre for Mental Health charity is also against the booths, warning that putting pupils in isolation for long periods can “have a negative impact” on mental health.
Not everyone agrees, however. The Government’s behaviour expert, Tom Bennett, says that the booths aren’t “isolation rooms”. They are “supervised, and more often than not, accompanied by other students. These are safe spaces, run by adults”.
Later this year, the Government will publish new advice on how schools use the booths. For now, the Department for Education says that “pupils are not to be kept in isolation longer than necessary and their time spent there must be as constructive as possible.”