‘I was put in a school isolation booth more than 240 times’ – Listen

A girl who tried to kill herself after spending months in an isolation booth at school has said she felt “alone, trapped and no-one seemed to care”. The BBC reports.

The teenager, who has autism, had no direct teaching and ate her lunch in the room, away from friends.

Her mother said for months she was unaware of what was happening to her daughter and called on the government to improve guidance for schools.

In a letter to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, the teenager – who we are calling “Sophie” – said: “I decided I’d rather die than be in isolation because of the mood it left me in.

“I felt alone and trapped at school for such a long time that I felt as though it would be best, as no-one seemed to care anyway.”

Her mother, “Philippa”, estimates that her daughter was placed in an isolation booth at her secondary school more than 240 times in total – beginning in year seven but becoming more frequent in years 10 and 11.

On one occasion, Sophie said: “I begged the teachers to ring my Mum as I didn’t want to be alone any more.

“They refused and took my phone away, leaving me and a teacher I didn’t know in an enclosed room.”

After she tried to take her own life, Sophie returned to school but said she would “dread each day” when she was again placed in isolation.

According to a BBC investigation last year, more than 200 pupils spent at least five straight days in isolation booths in schools in England last year.

Philippa added that the school had also been aware of her daughter’s plans to self-harm before she tried to take her own life, through a letter the teenager had written to them.

But the school did not make her aware of the letter at the time, she said.

“I can’t even begin to explain how it makes you feel knowing every day I’d send her into the school and she felt that alone that she wanted to take her own life.”

Read more and listen to ‘Sophie’ explain how she felt ‘I was put in a school isolation booth more than 240 times’

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin 

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Categories: 1st POST, Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Primary, Safeguarding, Secondary and SEN.


  1. sue evans

    My daughter was placed in isolation booths on a daily basis. She was a child in crisis as she was on drugs and had a controlling older boyfriend, she had also been bullied badly by older students which was the reason she started taking drugs and getting with a boy who knew he could control her(the school did nothing about this) She was not naughty in fact the total opposite she was intelligent but the teaching standard were so low she finished work and had time to dare to talk etc….this resulted in teachers telling her she would be placed in isolation. When i refused to allow them to put her in isolation for an entire week they permanently excluded her, how did that happen, well i will tell you, because i didn’t give them permission to abuse her by using isolation they made it their mission to get rid of her and unfortunately she fell into their trap. That was her decline. I had been fighting to get this isolation thing scrapped as i believe it goes against all human rights and i also know it is used wrongly in 99% of cases, by that i mean that certain teachers use it for silly things such as not having correct uniform, talking etc and i know that some teachers use it against students they don’t like.
    I am a teacher by the way and yes some students can be challenging but i am trained to challenge them by putting their energy into their work, isolation booths are well used in schools where there are lazy teachers who cant be bothered to go the extra mile.
    My daughter ended up in a school labelled for naughty kids, the bullies stayed at her previous school, the school she was sent to is bad but she is now getting ready to take her exams and go to college.
    In a nutshell the time she spent in isolation ruined her and messed with her head and i as a parent was powerless to stop the school treating her badly or getting rid of her, hopefully she can look back in future years and forget the way she was treated but many kids wont be able to.
    I really hope something gets done but as i have seen in past years this topic comes up and is often brushed over, this is because most believe those kids placed in isolation are there because they are naughty kids, this is wrong, and maybe when schools who use this practice are looked into deeper it will eventually be found that they are the reason with their poor teaching standards and teachers who to put it blatantly should not be working with vulnerable people

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