THIS bleak looking room is the grim fate for unruly pupils as a Blackpool school wages war on bad behaviour.
Collegiate High School has begun a revolutionary scheme to punish pupils for swearing at teachers, disrupting lessons or fighting.
Instead of being sent home on fixed term exclusions, disruptive youths find themselves holed up in a tiny, isolated booth – working in total silence.
And the unit – described as “prison” by some shocked pupils – has seen amazing results.
Of the 73 children who have been placed in the Internal Fixed Term Exclusion Unit (IFTE) since September, just 33 have been back.
Last year when old-style suspensions were in place, a staggering 606 school days were lost by pupils told to remain at home. Since September no days have been lost.
Cherry Ridgway, headteacher said: “The pupils absolutely hate being in the unit and most don’t risk going in again.
“I don’t see the point in excluding so pupils can be at home playing on their computers or being out on the streets.
“This is much more of a punishment and the children are still learning.
“One parent complained saying it is inhumane, but it’s had a dramatic effect and the difference in behaviour has been miraculous.”
Mrs Ridgway took over the Blackpool Old Road site in September when it was a school in crisis.
An Ofsted inspection put the school in special measures and GCSE results were not meeting Government targets.
One former teacher described behaviour at Collegiate as “anarchic.”
Mrs Ridgway took a zero-tolerance approach to bad behaviour, and the IFTE unit was created. Pupils work between 12pm and 5pm for stretches between one and three days.
As part of a raft of measures, new rules were written with pupil input, staff were given walkie talkies and school leaders patrol hallways.
But the fear of the IFTE unit is the greatest deterrent according to Diane Calderwood, pastoral manager at the Blackpool Old Road School.
She said: “I can’t praise the unit enough, the effect on behaviour has been dramatic.
“One boy said he felt like he was in prison, the room is so quiet you can hear a pin drop.
“It’s about being consistent, pupils need to realise disrupting lessons is not acceptable, this gives them time to cool down and think about the way they act.
“They hate being here, it’s quiet, boring, exactly how it should be.
“Before, if a pupil didn’t fancy lessons, they could act up trying to get sent home. This is much better for their life chances.”
Anger management and counselling sessions are also offered for students who persistently appear.
One 14-year-old boy spent a day in the unit after punching another pupil and has vowed never to return.
He said: “It was just horrible being in there, I hated it.
“There is nothing to look at, nobody to talk to and it felt much longer than five hours.
“I definitely don’t want to go back.”
Another 13-year-old boy has spent two, three day stretches in the unit for fighting.
He added: “I hate being in the unit, I’d much rather be in normal lessons.
“It’s the worst kind of punishment you can have. I got grounded at home as well.
“Collegiate is much tougher on behaviour than before.”
On a recent visit to monitor behaviour, Ofsted said Collegiate was one of the most improved schools they had seen.