WATCH: Isolation booths 'deskilling teachers'

Removing students from lessons means teachers are not building relationships with disruptive pupils, say campaigners

Isolation booths: Is this approach to behaviour management deskilling teachers?

The removal of disruptive pupils from lessons by senior leadership teams and the use of isolation booths can lead to the deskilling of teachers.

That's according to campaigners at the Lose the Booths event in Leeds today, which was attended by more than 200 teachers, leaders and parents from across the country.

The conference, at Carr Manor Community School in Leeds, was part of a campaign for the removal of isolation booths in all schools and for the reporting of all incidents of children being isolated for more than half a day.


Read: Call for clearer DfE guidance on isolation in schools

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Delivering a seminar at the event, assistant headteacher Andy Eastwood spoke of his own experience at his secondary school in South Manchester, where isolation booths were banned.

Should schools scrap isolation booths?

He said that, instead, teachers attempted to build successful relationships with disruptive pupils

“Something had to change," he said. "The light-bulb moment for some staff was that it was them who had to change.”

That meant, in some cases, staff using restorative practice to solve behaviour problems as well as  “catching students being good”, said Mr Eastwood. 

“It was about catching the students doing the right thing and celebrating it with them,” he continued, stressing that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of his school.

Prior to the change of policy at the school, he said, in some cases teachers had “no ownership” of incidents of poor behaviour, knowing that pupils would be removed to be dealt with by the senior leadership team.

"In removing students to SLT, that's deskilling the staff," he said. "There was no ownership of an incident and there was no 'I'm going to make contact with parents'."

Mr Eastwood told Tes: “Not dealing with a problem and someone else coming in to take away a pupil means teachers are not building a successful relationship.

"That child is coming back to you next lesson or next week or in two weeks, so why would you not want to build a relationship with them? Because you should want get the best out of every single child.”

Co-organiser of the event and primary headteacher Simon Kidwell said he also believed the use of booths led to deskilling of teachers.

He said: “As a teacher, the children who made the most impact on me were the ones who were really challenging, who’ve gone on to do really well.

"I had a child come to see me when he was 18. He left my school when he was 11 and he had real challenging behaviour, and he wanted to come and say thank you to me because he’d just been offered a place at Oxford."

Mr Kidwell said, had there been isolation booths, the child would have been taken out of school and home-educated.

Department for Education behaviour tsar Tom Bennett said: “There’s no evidence that removals leads to deskilling teachers. There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that not removing violent students creates classrooms filled by fear rather than calm.”

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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