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Testimonials
29 Oct 2009

Parents Dislike School's Isolation Room


A school which puts unruly pupils in a store room is facing a backlash from furious parents who are planning a protest.

Disruptive children are sent to the 8ft by 4ft room, which has no handles on the inside and only a window in the door, until they calm down.

But mothers and fathers have compared the punishment to 'something from the dark ages' and are threatening to keep their children out of classes and picket the main gate until the school changes its policy.

Coppins Green Primary School in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, has refused to back down, however, saying it is necessary to control 'extreme, disturbed children in a safe way'.

Many parents are also angry about a rewards system based on attendance, punctuality, behaviour and dress code which blocks some children from going on school trips.

Schools across the UK have been adopting forms of isolation as a punishment for unruly behaviour among pupils.

The room at Coppins Green School - a mixed establishment with around 650 pupils aged three to 11 - is watched over by a specially trained member of staff.

There is no lock, but the door is held closed by the member of staff on the outside and there is no handle on the inside.

However, the room has been designed so that the door will swing open if the adult is called away, allowing the child to leave.

An Ofsted inspection earlier this year classed the school as 'satisfactory', the third lowest of four categories, but said behaviour was 'of a high standard'.

Head teacher Stuart Livingstone admitted the isolation techniques were controversial but insisted they benefited students.

'It is not a punishment at all. It is a safe room where adults can control an extreme, disturbed child in a safe way,' he said.

'It is not something we use automatically. It really isn't used often, except in extreme cases. It is a small room, not a cupboard, but it is all we can find.'

Mr Livingstone added: 'Coppins Green Primary School has an extremely sophisticated pastoral care system in place which is implemented by a highly qualified team of staff.

'There is a reward system in place at the school which is based on how children themselves choose to behave, which many of the children thrive on.

'Very occasionally we have to deal with extremely violent and disruptive behaviour in order to safeguard and protect other pupils and staff at the school.

'There are a number of safe places at the school to calm children down including a family room with sofas and in very extreme cases a smaller safe room for the most disruptive and violent children.

'Any child that is placed in the room is fully supervised by one of more qualified members of staff and parents are informed.

'We take the welfare of all children very seriously and strive to provide and safe, caring and nurturing environment.'