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‘Isolation punishment’ in schools damages children

REVIEW: Isolation punishment in schools

THE ASSOCIATION of Educational Psychologists has called for an urgent review of the use of ‘isolation’ punishment in schools.

AEP General Secretary, Kate Fallon, won the backing of UK Trade Unions, including the education unions, today (Sept 9) at the TUC Congress in Brighton, where a motion was passed to support the campaign.

Kate Fallon said: “The extended use of ‘isolation’ as a punishment is a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child yet research shows that many schools are putting children into isolation units or booths as a punishment, sometimes for up to a whole week.

"The use of these booths is currently unregulated and unreported. There is no evidence that booths or extended isolation have any positive effect on behaviour. There is a great deal of evidence to the contrary.

"Research shows that isolated children tend to have lower subsequent educational attainment and are more likely to be psychologically distressed in adulthood.

"Some of the children whose behaviour leads to them being socially isolated from other children are those who may already have a range of specific needs - for example, children with autism, children with mental health needs - and are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of isolation.

Fallon added that she is calling for the use of isolation in schools to be urgently reviewed by the government and for it to either be "stopped, or for it to be regulated, reported and reduced.”

"The AEP highlighted a recent announcement by the Government of a £10m fund to improve behaviour in schools and called for assurances that this money will not be spent on creating isolation units or booths.

"The focus should be on supporting approaches which promote long term positive relationships between adults and children within an environment of mutual respect which will result in good long term outcomes for all.”