One child punished for saying thank you to canteen staff when told not to speak
'Zero-tolerance approaches to discipline in schools are “inhumane” and using isolation booths for extended periods have a “detrimental” effect on children’s mental health, teachers have warned.
Behaviour management policies in schools, which have been branded “draconian”, should be challenged over their impact on vulnerable pupils, teachers said, with one calling it “child abuse”.
The comments were made by members of the National Education Union (NEU) during a debate on “mental health in exam factories” at their conference in Liverpool.
Sally Kincaid, a teacher from Wakefield, said she knew of a seven-year-old child who “failed” the punishment system because he said thank you to canteen staff when he was not allowed to speak.
“If you see that as education then God help you because I do not,” Ms Kincaid said.
Meanwhile, Callum Wetherill, a teacher from Kirklees, said he knew of a school with a behaviour policy where children can be excluded for tapping, swinging on a chair or sighing when in an isolation room.
The remarks come as a mother of an autistic child who tried to take her own life in an isolation booth at an academy school is threatening legal action against the government.
The girl, who has autistic spectrum disorder, was put in isolation by her school in Kent for more than a month, where she was forced to remain silent and had no directed teaching.
Anna Wolmuth, from Islington, said: “We have heard horror stories from across the country. Children being made to cry in assemblies. Children spending six hours a day in isolation booths.”
Last year, a BBC investigation revealed that around 5,000 children with special educational needs attended isolation rooms in 2018 – and more than 200 children were placed in isolation booths for a whole week.'
Read more: Zero-tolerance approaches to bad behaviour in schools are ‘inhumane’, teachers say