Legal action prompts academy to consider isolation unit criticisms

The Guardian is reporting that an academy chain has pledged to look at criticism of its use of isolation units in a review of its behaviour policy, after a student mounted legal action against the trust.

Proceedings were lodged in the high court in December against Outwood Grange Academies Trust’s use of “isolation booths”, spaces in “consequence rooms” in which children sit in silence for hours as punishment for breaking school rules. The trust runs 31 schools across Yorkshire, the Humber and the east Midlands.

In a move welcomed by the legal firm bringing the action, the academy trust said the concerns raised in the application would be “expressly considered” in a routine review of its behaviour policy. The concerns included the use of isolation booths for extended periods of time, the lack of teaching while children are in the rooms and the lack of oversight of the policy.

In its response to the legal action, the trust argued permission for a judicial review should not be granted as, if it were successful, the outcome would likely be to require the trust to review its behaviour policy, which it was planning to do anyway.

According to data released through a freedom of information request, just over 31,000 C5 orders to go to an isolation booth were issued to pupils across 14 schools in the trust in the 2017-18 academic year. C5s were issued to around 1,400 children receiving free school meals and 90 with education health and care (EHC) plans.

Read more Legal action prompts academy to consider isolation unit criticisms

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