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Isolation booths

Discussion in 'Education news' started by phlogiston, Jan 26, 2020.

  1. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I am slightly intrigued that we have not debated isolation booths on this forum. I would have expected vigorous debate.
    According to the people reported here https://www.tes.com/news/watch-isolation-booths-de-skilling-teachers isolation booths deskill teachers. I'm not sure that I agree with this.
    For starters, it was never me who sent anyone to the isolation booth, that was a decision (rightly) made by SLT in response to serious behaviour difficulties. I put a lot of effort into trying to support the kids who got put into isolation. It was often a relief when they vanished as then I could put my efforts into pedagogy with the rest of the class.
    In my school, the isolation booth meant a certain amount of isolation from the child's peers. As these relationships were often destructive, that made a certain amount of sense. They also had attention from the supervisor of the isolation room - a "dragon with a heart of gold". They aslo had targeted work from the subject teachers who usually managed to pay them a visit to deliver work and support.
    I suspect it wasn't like that everywhere.
    I still maintain my view that mainstream school isn't appropriate for all the kids we try to push through it. It sort of works for many, but was failing to deal with those needing more support. I now work with some of these "fallen through the cracks" kids in a different environment.
  2. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    The assumption by these advocate for scrapping them is the kid gets sent there for their first minor offence and then stays there for the rest of their school career! Or it is if you read the articles. They ignore (I can't believe they don't know) that these kids will have received many many hours of support and interventions in the classroom, mostly at the expense of the other kids who lose out on their share of the teacher's time, before the isolation option is used. In schools where I have worked records are kept and kids who appear regularly in isolation get yet more intervention and support in an attempt to get them back to the classroom. Sometimes it works, somethims it doesn't.
  3. maggie m

    maggie m Lead commenter

    My experience is that they work well. Where I work heads of year and above can remove pupils to isolation short term, for example until break or lunch when they have time to address the issue properly. In these cases the pupils has usually been very disruptive, rude or fighting. These pupils might get one day of isolation. Pupils who spend longer in isolation have usually had lots of interventions, been on report, been allocated a mentor and it has failed. Only then does the head or pastoral DH extend the period in isolation. There is a member of teaching staff who works fulltime with these pupils, also trained acounsellor and a social worker who are both part time.
  4. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    'Catch them being good' was the mantra of SLT/teachers who have NEVER taught a bottom set core subject GCSE on a Friday afternoon.... I don't know what I would have done without the isolation system in my first inner-city school. It wasn't easy to get students removed (we would have to present the case to the SLT 'on patrol' and they would decide whether to take them away) and the SLT bought into the currency at the time that behaviour issues were a result of poor lesson planning (I know, I know - absolute BS) so it was never a decision made lightly. It wasn't as if these students were magic'd away forever; I would still see them four hours a week, week-in, week-out. Sometimes they had good lessons (and they were well-rewarded; believe me - I did everything I could to negate poor behaviour: planning/differentiating to the nth degree, using lots of rewards, chunking, timings, a mix of activities, a lack of mixing - anything and everything) and sometimes they had very bad lessons - when they would be removed. Often it had nothing to do with me or the subject (one disturbed student I taught at GCSE became pregnant by her cousin in Y10 - no amount of well-designed starter or main activities would ever take her mind off that!) but it was always easier to pretend that it was. Because, at the end of the day, these students were in a class of students all with similar issues - removing one was often necessary to calm the rest who were equally volatile. Our SLT at the time were predominantly PE teachers so they lacked the empathy of teaching an academic, classroom-based subject that the students were 'forced' to do four hours a week (a subject that is externally examined and forms part of the baseline measure of a schools' effectiveness at that!).

    I was also timetabled to supervise isolation: some support staff would run it like a youth club, others like a prison. It wasn't a particularly productive place but I know of schools that run very effective inclusion centres run by dedicated, professional teachers. What is often forgotten by these 'lose the booths' advocates is that true inclusion means that sometimes students need time-out from a mainstream classroom as they can be loud, stressful, difficult places (not just for teachers!). Isolation booths are not the problem per se, it's when schools set them up and run them on the cheap that is the problem.
    agathamorse and BetterNow like this.
  5. ajrowing

    ajrowing Lead commenter

    An isolation booth sounds delightful. Is one allowed to use them during INSET and staff meetings?
    ridleyrumpus, WB, lanokia and 4 others like this.
  6. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    Very telling that none of the comments agree with the HT who wants them banned from all schools!
    Even Tom Bennett disagrees.
  7. bessiesmith2

    bessiesmith2 New commenter

    The education of the remaining 29 students in the class needs to be considered - if disruptive students remain in the room it is extremely difficult to deliver a high standard of education to anyone.
  8. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    If the Government (was it Labour)? hadn't decided to fine schools £5k for each exclusion then 'internal exclusion' wouldn't have become a thing.
    Catgirl1964 likes this.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    They don't AFAIK. Do you mean the per pupils finance rule about the pupil funding for the rest of the year following the pupil if they are excluded? (It doesn't if pupils come off roll for other reasons).

    The last Labour government started the DfE policy of reducing permanent exclusions by encouraging schools to use alternative sanctions and interventions but it has continued to be DfE policy under the last 10 years of Conservative governments too.
  10. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    The Government have never fined schools £5K per exclusion

    If I may offer some advice - try to avoid reading the Daily Mail or The Sun there are too many lies to count
  11. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    I’ve heard that putting students who are already unable to conform to social situations (ie follow classroom rules) into an isolated environment where they are unable to socialise has a detrimental affect on their future. Students who are frequently found in isolation are more likely to go through the ‘system’ (prison, tag, etc) as adults.

    There are theories to suggest management of students and one to one support for those who frequently behave in a disruptive way can improve behaviour long term so there is no need for isolation. Students in these types of schools have better outcomes/results.

    However, who has the money to finance such systems?!
    Catgirl1964 likes this.
  12. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    Is this correlation or causation though. I would argue that the students who behave in a way that means they are disrupting lessons etc., are those more likely to be tended towards criminality irrespective of how a school deals with their behaviour.
  13. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I don't really understand what they are? I thought isolation booth meant this sort of thing:


    but I can't really understand how such a basic , common, simple, effective, popular piece of furniture could provoke any complaint. What am I missing?
  14. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Isolation is used in place of the reduction in numbers at Pupil Behavioural Units. It's an 'On the cheap' solution to a problem which can have deeper underlying issues and needs specialist care and attention. That costs money.

    If memory serves my city has two such units... I use to do some work with them. There was always a high pressure to put in more pupils as schools struggled to cope with the numbers. In that time the city's population rose by 40,000... with commensurate pressure on school numbers.
    ajrowing likes this.
  15. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    In years gone by, Old Andrew was a regular on these boards

    No longer so.

    But he still writes a blog which I look at now and again.

    He is usually very sensible IMO

    Including this time.


    (Though I do presume to say that some of the idealistic scales seem to have fallen from his eyes, over the years. Just my opinion, obviously.)
  16. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    Maybe a bit of both, But wouldn’t it be nice if teachers could shape and mould a child in a positive way so they are less likely to go through the system? Lack of funding and research though...
  17. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I am sure we do, for countless thousands
  18. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    You’ve taken that out of context but cutting that sentence short o_O
  19. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I'm sure we do for countless thousands.
    bertiehamster likes this.
  20. Zoda8

    Zoda8 New commenter

    Just been reading a Webster-Stratton book on positive behaviour management. Lots of positive advice about what is best for the disruptive child's progress - e.g. no continuing benefit to them in being excluded from a room for more than 5 minutes. The brief of an Ed Psych supporting a school seems to be to focus entirely on the child they are supporting, to the complete exclusion of the needs of the rest of the class. All the behaviour books and behaviour advice I have seen follow this pattern of focussing entirely on the needs of the disruptive child.

    Out of curiosity, I have tried to find some literature on how to balance one's support for a disruptive child with the needs of their non-disruptive classmates. For some reason I can't find any - in fact the pendulum swings so far in the other direction that all I can find is isolation booths. Isolation booths are a crude but effective measure to promote the needs of non disruptive children, by removing disruptive children from class for significant periods of time. They could hardly be described as proper schooling for the pupils in them. I would like to think that a third way exists, but the educationalists (perhaps rightly) horrified by isolation booths might become more persuasive if they start to recognise the needs of well behaved children, as well as disruptive ones. There have been occasions in my own school where I have only managed to achieve this with patient, time intensive support from my head teacher. I have been teaching for ten years, and paradoxically now feel more comfortable about accepting this support than I did as an NQT.
    bessiesmith2 and ACOYEAR8 like this.

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