According to BBC, children are being held in isolation rooms for as long as six hours a day for minor infringements of behaviour policies, a teachers’ conference heard.
National Education Union delegates described how isolation booths were filled with children with special needs and those with difficult home lives.
They said children turning round in class, or speaking to canteen staff, could mean sanctions in some schools.
Anna Wolmuth, a teacher from Islington, described the practice as child abuse.
She talked about a school in her area which, she said, had a particularly tough zero tolerance behaviour policy, and had almost acted like a “feeder school” for the pupil referral unit where she works.
Callum Wetherill, a special needs teacher from Leeds, said children do not respond well to being ignored.
He said that instead of being made to sit in an isolation booth doing maths sums again and again until they get them right, children could be treated in a more thoughtful way, with the causes of their problems being examined.
The union voted to undertake research into school behaviour policies and produce guidance for schools in this area, as well as offering support to members raising concerns about the issue.
The Department for Education has said isolation rooms should not be used for longer than necessary, and the health and safety of pupils should always come first.
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