Skip to main content

Call to end ‘draconian use of isolation booths’ to punish pupils

Hinds says government supports headteachers and schools in deciding ‘proportionate use of behaviour management’

Labour MP Ellie Reeves called for an end to the 'draconian use of isolation units'.

An MP has called for an end to the “draconian use” of isolation booths in schools to punish poor pupil behaviour.

The call, which was made during education questions in the House of Commons this afternoon, came amid growing debate about the practice.

Last year, an investigation found that hundreds of pupils spent at least a week in isolation booths.


Quick read: Hundreds of pupils spend a week in isolation booths

Research: Most secondaries use internal exclusion units 

Debate: Should isolation rooms be banned?


The BBC probe found that two schools, which had toilets as part of their facilities, did not allow pupils to leave the isolation unit all day.

Ellie Reeves, Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge in South London, raised the issue with education secretary Damian Hinds in Parliament during a discussion about the Timpson review into school exclusions.

She told the minister that as well as being concerned about the delay in publishing the review, she was worried about “other forms of exclusion” which, she said, may fall outside Timpson’s scope.

Ms Reeves said: “I’m aware in my constituency of the use of isolation units in schools where students are removed from lessons and placed in single booths to work on their own, often for several days at a time, without no therapeutic intervention as a form of punishment for poor behaviour.

“Often this will result in the student no longer going to school. Will the minister meet with me to discuss ending the draconian use of isolation units?”

The education secretary avoided saying whether he would meet her to discuss the issue.

Instead, Mr Hinds said: “We do support headteachers and schools in making decisions on proportionate use of behaviour management.

“It is important that those are proportionate…It’s headteachers and schools who are generally speaking in the best position to make those judgements, but we also have guidance that we issue from the centre.

“We keep that under review.”

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you