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Case Studies

Explore how Peacemakers and our tools have helped children, staff and organisations in different situations.

Participant names have been changed to protect privacy.

A credit to the role, despite a bumpy start!

Ten year old Greg, is a success story in a group of mediators from a Birmingham primary school. Greg was very much one of the more boisterous children who used to end up in reflection quite a lot! This has changed since he has become a mediator.  Greg has taken the responsibility seriously, so that even though some of his friends have dropped out of being mediators, not wanting to miss play, he has carried on and been willing to work with anyone.  He has responded to the training and the responsibility and is a credit to the role and this shows in his behaviour in school generally.

A force for reason and calm

Alex participated in our one of our Positive Peace Groups at a Birmingham Secondary School.  Following the sessions his Head of Year saw a change in him: “Alex is actually now a force for reason and calm within the year group. He is well respected by his peers and seems to be using the skills you’ve worked on with him to restore calm and order with students as they respect what he advises them to do.” 

A breakthrough!

In the early weeks of the Peacemakers course, Stefan struggled to participate with people he didn’t feel he could work well with. He often lacked concentration. As the sessions progressed, he became eager to please, settled quickly and made some fantastic, thoughtful contributions to whole group discussions.

Stefan made a breakthrough towards the end of the course. When he was asked to work with a group of children, he immediately became sullen.  But with just a little encouragement, and when left to it, he chose to participate with the group well and they all completed the task together.

Finding ways to get along

Aisha and Mohammed just didn’t seem to be able to get along in class. Their teacher often had to ensure they didn’t work together. When their class took part in the 10-week Peacemakers course, they learnt how to talk about conflict and what happens when things go wrong.

After, Aisha came to her teacher one lunchtime, very upset. She said, ‘Mohammed took the hoop off me, we used blaming language and now we’ve got to the top of the conflict escalator’. Her teacher asked if Aisha needed her to step in, or if they could use what they learnt in Peacemakers to talk it out themselves. By this time Mohammed had come in too. They decided to try and sort it out themselves. They talked in the classroom whilst their teacher worked at her desk, and successfully resolved their disagreement. Later, the teacher asked Aisha and Mohammed to work together on a task – they did so all afternoon without any more issues.

I think I can work this out by myself

Connor used to struggle to make friends and relate to others. One day Connor came in from the playground during lunchbreak, visibly distressed about something that happened. He talked a bit about the problem which had happened between him and two friends. The adult offered to help him sort it out thinking he would need support. But Connor said ‘No, I think I can work it out’. When asked what he would do, he explained he was going to go and sit with the friend he had fallen out with and say: ’I’m really sorry about what I said, I didn’t mean it. I want to try and sort this out’. After lunch the adult checked in with Connor and asked how it went and got a big thumbs up and a smile!

Circles developing empathy

Max found his first term in Reception difficult. He was quite closed up and found it hard to build relationships and so he didn’t have any friends. After some months of Peacemaker circles and a restorative response, not only did he make some friends, which made a big difference for him, but he was also able to show empathy and support others having a hard time.  One day he was in the classroom when a girl came in crying, and he got up and put his arms around her. This was huge for him.


Confidence in the safety of the circle

Lara was a year 4 student with selective mutism at school.  She didn’t speak in class to the teacher and didn’t interact much with her peers at playtime either, preferring to play with family.  She remained silent for Peacemaker sessions, choosing to pass the ball for check in when it was her turn, though would silently join in the games using hand signals and was actively listening to the sessions.  In week 5, she chose to speak when it was her turn in the check in.  Each week after this, she either spoke in the circle or actively volunteered to take part in an activity, including standing on her own in the middle of the circle.  On reflection, her teacher, Mr M commented that it “made his day” when she spoke in the circle for the first time.  To see her confidence grow within the safety of the circle was encouraging for us all.

From cynic to convert

New teacher Steve was cynical when asked to take part in a Peacemakers circle course. He had come from a business background; he and his students loved his high-energy lessons, his outcomes were good. Soon, though, he began to see how the children were engaging in the Peacemakers sessions. Kids who were previously quiet were speaking up and taking a more active part. He saw competitive children sharing resources and asking for the opinion of others.

Over the weeks, Steve took a more active part in the circle games and, as a result, got to know more of the children in his class. He started to notice the learning from the circle was being applied in academic subjects and his pupils’ group working skills were noticeably developed. By the end, Steve says himself that he moved from cynic to convert to the Peacemakers’ circle process.

A remarkable restorative practitioner

Damien was a young teaching assistant tasked with supporting some of the most vulnerable and challenging young people in the school. Damien had some personal, past experience of violence that he had disclosed to the Principal. The Principal believed in Damien’s capacity and ability but knew that he lacked confidence.

Damien attended a 3-day training course in restorative practice and during the course demonstrated an ability to engage, to listen deeply, to ask pertinent questions and show a level of connection to others that his colleagues were impressed by.

Damien’s confidence grew as he put the practical ideas and the language he learnt on the course to use. He saw results with young people within days. Damien began to realise he had a pedagogy, a way of working that suited him and got results. His confidence flourished and was seen by his colleagues to be a remarkable restorative practitioner.

Better relationships improve shared vision

Over the pandemic lockdowns, headteacher Laura felt a shift in relationships within her special school. She had been working with Peacemakers for a year to develop restorative practices in the school. It had been going really well with sanctions reduced. But now, children were presenting more challenging behaviour. Staff were calling for stricter discipline in response. Knowing the power of a circle and the restorative approach, Laura felt frustrated she couldn’t meet with staff in person to explore the situation.

Laura asked for support from Peacemakers. Over a coaching call, she began to see more clearly the pressure the pandemic was putting on everyone and how this was affecting relationships. She made a plan to reach out to staff to hear their concerns and afterwards arranged a virtual circle with them to discuss rewards and punishments. Some shared a view that sanctions were needed to encourage desirable behaviour and reduce unwanted behaviour. The space allowed other voices too, highlighting other forms of discipline, or learning, that come from positive relationships. Stories were shared about how pupil’s behaviour often changed depending on how connected they felt to an adult and their peers.

Together, they acknowledged that when we are socially engaged, our need for control and compliance reduces. Participants saw the very online circle they were part of was an example of this in action – when Laura asked about their thoughts and feelings, colleagues began to feel more connected to her, more open to new ideas and more empathy for the young people. The team concluded that adult-imposed discipline strategies could deny young people opportunities to develop empathy, moral reasoning and the impact harm can have on others and they agreed a shared way forward.

Positive Women Positive Peace

When I first came to the Positive Women, Positive Peace course, I was really nervous, but Jackie and Helen made me feel so welcome. I instantly felt things were going to change for the better. I was in a violent relationship for 10 years, both ways, and I believed that it was OK to use violence if you were protecting a family member or a child.

Positive Women, Positive Peace has totally changed my view. I no longer find any violence acceptable. Learning about the different kinds of violence and how it can be used to oppress people was really eye-opening.

I love the way Jackie and Helen gave everyone a chance to talk, and also the way they took time to listen to how members of the group really felt.  I particularly enjoyed the Magic Carpet which is an amazing tool to inspire confidence in group members.

After completing the course, I felt a change in me. I no longer feel as much anger as I used to. I learnt leadership skills and opened my eyes to the violence other cultures endure as well as our own. I really enjoyed going out to the park and learning to use all my senses and trust in people when we did an activity blindfolded.

It’s not easy to put your trust in others when you have been through what we have.  This course has inspired me to go on and co-facilitate another course at Anawim and in the future train for peer mentoring