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Use of isolation booths in schools should be banned, says British Psychological Society

26 October 2021

The BPS is calling for a ban on the use of isolation booths, seclusion rooms and all forms of segregation in schools, following CCTV footage of pupil abuse in isolation booths at a special school in London.

The BPS says that the use of isolation booths is not backed by evidence and has been proven not to be effective. Such approaches to children’s behaviour are overly simplistic and run counter to the understanding of child development.

The BPS acknowledges that in some extreme circumstances the use of isolation rooms/booths can be used for pupil and teacher safety. Each school is different, and decisions must be taken on a case-by-case basis, however to protect the rights and interests of all children and their families the BPS feels there needs to be regulation and monitoring of the use of these provisions in schools. Furthermore, the BPS would also encourage schools to avoid the use of isolation/segregation when and where possible.

Vivian Hill, vice chair of the BPS’ Division of Education and Child Psychology, said:

“The use of isolation rooms breaches the UN convention on the rights of the child, denying them their right to learn effectively, and disproportionately affects those children and young people who need the most support. This includes children with disabilities and special educational needs, those living in poverty, children in care, boys from black and mixed backgrounds, and children already experiencing lower levels of emotional or psychological wellbeing.

“The use of isolation booths locates ‘the problem’ within the child and fails to recognise the links between disability special education needs, poverty, inequality, lower wellbeing, poor mental health and children’s behaviour in school. We need to see a cultural shift on how schools support vulnerable children, focusing on building supportive environments for our children within schools and colleges, encouraging creativity, teaching social-emotional skills and autonomy and a strong sense of school belonging to promote positive behaviour in children and young people.”

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