Parent fury as school uses 'Guantanamo Bay' isolation cells to punish unruly pupils
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:13 PM on 13th October 2008
A school which sends unruly children to Guantanamo Bay-style isolation cells has faced criticism.
Children are ordered to sit for extended periods under a spotlight facing a black wall in one of four partitioned areas of a classroom to reflect on their misbehaviour.
Teachers at Ridgewood School in Doncaster – who call the cells 'individual study rooms' – also notify parents if their youngsters spend time in the cells.
A father whose son was ordered to spend a day in one of the units has threatened to remove him from the school in protest.
Andrew Widdowson discovered the unusual punishment after Kieran, 11, helped deflate the tyres on a boy’s bike, he claimed.
Mr Widdowson, 30, told said: ‘A teacher rang and told me about the punishment and I went into the school to see for myself what this isolation room was.
‘I couldn’t believe it. It was like something out of Guantanamo Bay.
‘The room is painted totally black. The walls, the partitions, the window blinds – everything was black.
‘The partitions down one side created four cells where school kids are expected to sit at a desk all day.’
‘My son has never been in trouble. The first time he’s done something and he gets told to go into isolation. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
‘I would rather take my son out of school than see him spend time in that dungeon.’
Now teachers have refused to let Kieran return to class until he serves his time in the room.
Mr Widdowson had earlier received a letter from the school explaining: ‘All the boys involved would serve one day in the isolation room on separate days… so they can reflect individually on their actions and hopefully decide that they will not be part of doing anything like this again whatever their motivation and degree of involvement in this case.’
The school has defended the room, which is supervised by a member of staff.
In a statement it said: ‘It is well lit with a window providing adequate external light and extra ventilation as required, and each individual carrel has separate spot lighting in addition.
‘The facility has been in use for over four years and accommodates a handful of pupils each week overwhelmingly for no more than one day and some for less than this.
'The facility is used at a relatively minor level of the behaviour policy to give pupils a chance to reflect on their behaviour and strengthen their desire to meet expectations in future.
‘It overwhelmingly achieves this in terms of pupils not returning for repeated isolations.
‘Pupils are supplied with work from current lessons and are free to ask questions of the supervising member of staff as they would in lessons.
‘It was fully functional during the 2006 Ofsted inspection and approved as a positive feature of the school’s overall success.
‘The school shares the aim of getting Kieran back into education at Ridgewood promptly.
'He is welcome to return at any time, do his day in isolation in line with the behaviour policy for all pupils and return to his full mainstream timetable.’