Put an end to isolation

| March 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

British parents are protesting the increasing use of “isolation booths”, used in many schools as a form of punishment.
The measure seems to be particularly prevalent in Academy Trust schools, institutions which are state-funded and independent of local authority control.
The Guardian newspaper found last year that many of these schools were using “consequence rooms” when children disobeyed school rules. The Outwood Grange Academies’ behaviour policy, for example, states that :
The rule when in detention and in the consequences room is occupy and ignore. [You] cannot sleep or put [your] head on the desk. [You] must sit up and face forward. [You] are not allowed to tap, chew, swing on the chairs, shout out, sigh, or [engage in] any other unacceptable or disruptive behaviour. You will be allowed to go to the toilet up to a maximum of three times during the day (maximum five minutes per visit). You must use the closest toilet and go directly there and back. You will be escorted to get your lunch, but you must stay silent.
Reacting to The Guardian article online, educational researcher and former principal Roger Titcombe said the use of isolation areas (in some schools they are literally booths) contravene international law. According to Titcombe:
In December 2015, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly formally adopted the Nelson Mandela Rules, the revised 122 Rules of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The Mandela Rules “represent a universally accepted minimum standard for the treatment of prisoners, conditions of detention and prison management, and offer essential practical guidance to prison administrations”. The Mandela Rules state that solitary confinement “shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review”. The revised UN Rules also reiterate that solitary confinement should be prohibited for children.
A British mum told The Guardian that her son had been sentenced to 22 hours in an isolation booth at school. “He came out at the end of the day and he didn’t look well. His legs were shaking and he could hardly string a sentence together. He looked completely done in,” she said.
The schools in question have stated that isolation treatment only occurs after students have deliberately flouted school rules. Children are also “under surveillance” during isolation periods, say schools. However, “Basically, isolation and confinement give children the message that they are inferior and unfit to be with other humans,” says academic James Kimmel.

Category: Autumn 2019

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