I’ve read an interesting article in the guardian online today. This article is all about how isolation booths in schools are used for punishment and reports children spending around 15 days per year on their own. Unable to talk or interact with anyone, not even being taught or having work provided for them to complete. Is this the socialization that people are so concerned about home educated children missing out on? Is this the real world and real society that children in school get to learn about while home educated children are kept sheltered?
I remember getting a message from my daughter when she was in school. She attended to the end of her first year at secondary school before we decided to de register and home educate. She messaged me one day to let me know that she was in isolation. I asked why, what had she done and was told that she hadn’t broken any rules, she had been threatened with physical violence by several girls who had been bullying her.
Now the bullying wasn’t a new thing, it had gone on for some time and we had already had several meetings at the school, provided phone records and printed out text messages, WhatsApp messages and emails. The school had moved my daughter into another class but still it had continued. But this time there had been a member of staff to witness it. A member of staff had heard my daughter get threatened. So she was asked “follow me please” off down the school corridors.
So how did she end up in isolation I hear you wonder. Well I asked the same question, and I was told “it is easier to ensure her safety in isolation than to monitor the where abouts of each of them ” and so a victim of bullies, as if not ready isolated enough, is put into isolation as a safeguarding measure.
So it really comes as no surprise that there comes a school which takes it too far and a student and parents who decide no. In a time where parents are getting fined for poor attendance, when holiday absences are not being approved and parents are told that even missing a single day can have a detrimental effect, how are these long days in isolation able to be justified even as a punishment? Is it right for a parent to be berrated about time keeping and attendance, for the school to be able to send the child to sit in a cubicle on their own with no teaching and no interaction? Are these isolation cubicles really a vital part of a child’s education? Is THIS what our home educated children are missing out on?