‘Barbarians’ at the gates

Examples of ‘no excuses’ and ‘zero tolerance’ behaviour policies have been lambasted in the press of late as ‘barbaric’. With policies of isolation rooms and silent corridors gaining greater traction in our schools, are such approaches really as shocking as is being made out? William Stewart and Irena Barker chart a course to help teachers navigate an issue that is dividing opinion like few others

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This term, two facets of school behaviour policies – isolation rooms and booths for misbehaving pupils, as well as a silent-corridors rule – have received huge national media attention. Portrayed as shocking and “barbaric”, their use has drawn comparisons with everything from North Korean gulags to monasteries and prisons.

But if social media is anything to go by, both approaches split the teaching profession down the middle. Some teachers are appalled by what they see as unnecessarily extreme and rigid solutions to behavioural problems. And just as many seem to barely understand why what they ...

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