2019 Spring Term 1

The know zone

  • Contextual safeguarding
    ASCL Parliamentary and Inclusion Specialist Anna Cole details a new framework set to transform the way professionals approach safeguarding young people. More
  • Framework focus
    Response to the broad direction of change for Ofsted inspections has been positive but it will take time to develop curriculum and assessment expertise, says Stephen Rollett. More
  • Be prepared
    Incidents of cyber fraud are on the rise and schools and colleges are not immune to this type of crime. Here ASCL Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights steps leaders and their staff can take to mitigate the risks. More
  • Retirement planning tips
    Whatever stage of life you're at, now is a good time to check whether you are on track to enjoy a comfortable retirement, says Managing Director of Lighthouse Financial Advice Ltd Lee Barnard. More
  • Time out
    The use of isolation rooms/booths in schools has featured in the media recently. What are your views? Do they work? Do you use them in your school? Here, ASCL members share their views. More
  • We're here for you
    ASCL Hotline Leader Rachel Bertenshaw provides an overview of our dedicated Hotline service available to members all year around. More
  • FYI: TLA's are our USP...
    FTU (For the uninitiated), the headline is suggesting that the teaching profession is revelling in its usage of three-letter acronyms, AKA TLAs. Carl Smith wonders if this trend has yet to go OTT or if we should desist PDQ. More
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The use of isolation rooms/booths in schools has featured in the media recently. What are your views? Do they work? Do you use them in your school? Here, ASCL members share their views.

Time out

Boundaries and consequences 

These are used in my school. I always say that isolation rooms are like prisons, everyone in there is innocent (donít know why they are in there!) and it works for those who never go in there. 

The current media scrutiny is quite sensationalist. After all, the idea of isolation rooms is to avoid the need for a fixed-term exclusion. Young people need to be taught boundaries and that actions have consequences. Isolation rooms are not supposed to be enjoyable places. Most students only spend one day in there, not 40 consecutive days as one report stated. Isolation rooms are perfectly fine as part of a whole-school system that has other strategies to address the needs of young people.

Stephen Gray
Deputy Headteacher, The Whitby High School, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

One part of an overall strategy

There is nothing inherently good or bad about isolation units. When used well, they can be highly effective in transforming the behaviour culture in school, as has been the case in our experience. Used badly, I have no doubt that they achieve little and may even make the situation worse. 

In my view, the key elements of effective practice include: 

  • setting out your behaviour expectations with total clarity 
  • working tirelessly to ensure that these expectations are applied consistently and fairly 
  • investing in high-quality staffing, that is, accepting that this cannot be done properly Ďon the cheapí 
  • balancing the sanctions with support for high-needs students 
  • investing in systems that allow impact to be monitored and tracked meticulously 
  • communicating with staff, students and parents regularly 
  • making sure that positive behaviours are recognised and celebrated systematically 

In short, as part of a coherent overall behaviour strategy, isolation units can be highly effective. The positive impact of these approaches in our school has been extraordinary.

Francis Power
Headteacher, The Fallibroome Academy, Macclesfield, Cheshire

A necessary evil 

Isolation units are a necessary evil for those extreme (and rare) students who, due to their disruptive behaviour, canít just be moved to another lesson. However, once in the isolation units, students should be provided with learning resources and a teacher should monitor them to offer support so that their educational journey isnít hampered too much by their behavioural choices. 

Neil Middleton
Assistant Headteacher, Wood Green School, Witney, Oxfordshire

Isolation v internal exclusion 

I think itís important to distinguish between Ďisolationí and Ďinternal exclusioní. This is not a matter of semantics; we use internal exclusion, where students work at individual workstations with computers with trained behaviour support colleagues. This is not the same thing as isolation that suggests pupils being placed alone for extended periods of time (which we donít use). 

The reality is that internal exclusion is part of a raft of behaviour-management techniques, some positive and some less so. We try to avoid it by using other techniques, but sometimes the behaviour of a minority of children is beyond the pale and the disruption to the learning of everyone they share a classroom with is unacceptable. 

It is a method we use to actively avoid fixed-term exclusions; it can also be very useful in helping to identify pupils for whom a more bespoke provision is required. 

Morgan Thomas
Principal, The Littlehampton Academy, Littlehampton, West Sussex

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