What is a Restorative Approach?
A restorative approach in schools works by building relationships, maintaining relationships and repairing relationships when harm has been caused.
A restorative approach offers an alternative way for schools to think about addressing discipline and behavioural issues and offers a consistent framework for responding to these issues. In schools, we train both the adults and the children in ways to use dialogue to respond to disagreements and incidents. Restorative approaches to behaviour and relationship development are growing in popularity throughout the UK and Peacemakers is contributing to a strong evidence base nationally related to increased attendance and attainment, decreased exclusions and improved Ofsted inspection reports.
What are the benefits of a
It provides a safe environment and opportunities to discuss problems
It engages participants with dignity and respect
It encourages participants to develop their 'thinking & feeling' responses
It develops Emotional Intelligence through listening & acknowledgement
It leads to more shared understanding
It promotes learning and shared responsibility
It can encourage appropriate behaviour change
Leads to a sense of fairness and respect within the school and the community
A Peacemakers' Restorative School
This is an intensive school improvement experience (not a one-off activity) that sees relationships as central to learning, growth and a healthy school climate for children and adults.
We work cross-school to develop the ethos, skills and processes needed to build, maintain and repair relationships at all levels. This immersive project usually lasts for 18 months during which we would support changes in behaviour for both the adults and the children, develop school policy, offer strategic support and challenge, develop positive relationships with parents and significantly enhance the PSHE/SMSC/Pastoral offer in school.
This large scale project includes a wide variety of training for both adults and children in the school. Ideally we will work with all the children in the school, the majority of classroom staff, most of the support staff and lunchtime staff. It's likely we will work closely with a senior member of the leadership team and the pastoral team.
The Peacemakers Restorative School project is bespoke programme of peace-building activities that enhance relationships within a school. These activities could include:
- the development of conflict resolution skills in both adults and children
- a peer mediation service established
- a restorative script/language
- the development of emotional vocabulary and intelligence
- the development of circle time across the school
- working with challenging behaviour
- the development of a shared language around conflict
- implementation of restorative policies and procedures
Both staff and children will have new ways to resolve problems, repair harm and restore relationships when they break down.
This image gives an indication of a pathway a typical school might take on the restorative school journey.
The evidence is in the reduction in the number of behaviour incidences.Assistant Head Teacher
A lot of parents were saying how wonderful they thought it was and how it differentiated us from a lot of other schools.Teacher
You’re changing people’s lives. You’re changing how people interact with one another. You’re changing how people feel about themselvesSenior Leader
It makes you reflect on your behaviours and how you deal with situations. And that can sometimes be quite salutary.Head Teacher
It made me consider how RA can be difficult to implement in schools with a very different ethos as it challenges deep beliefs. It is important to meet the unmet needs of school so that they are open to trying a new way of doing things.City Council Primary Social, Emotional and Mental Health Link Teacher
- Contact Anna Gregory email@example.com 0121 236 4796 to have a chat. Anna can talk through costs, funding options, how the project looks in other schools and potential timescales.
- The pilot Whole School Approach Project (2012-2014) was evaluated by the Cambridge Peace Education Research Group – read the final report.
These schools have gone through the Peacemakers Restorative programme:
- George Dixon
- Erdington Hall
- Kings Norton
- Holy Trinity
- Bells Farm
- Rounds Green
- The Oaks
- The Meadows
There is a network of schools that meet termly to keep their practice up to date.
Restorative Circles and Support
Big events can happen both inside and outside of school. We can facilitate a safe process to help people to come together, discuss what has happened and discuss what can be done to make things better for those involved.
If something has gone wrong and it looks like people might like the opportunity to put things right and repair their relationships, then a facilitated restorative meeting could help. At a restorative meeting, all people involved in the incident are invited to come together, listen to the impact of the problem on all the parties and work together to come up with some solutions. This meeting is carried out by a trained restorative facilitator who makes sure that everyone gets heard equally.
The difference between mediation and a restorative meeting is that mediation can be used where there is a conflict or dispute about a specific incident; whereas a restorative meeting is designed to address the impact of the harm on a relationship.
A class restorative circle might be held to discuss something that's happened at school or an event in the media. A restorative meeting might be held to talk through a difficult exclusion. This could involve parents and staff. In this process, everyone is respected, is treated equally and has the opportunity to speak without interruption. It is a chance for people to tell their own stories, to both speak and listen in a deeper, more heartfelt way. It is an opportunity for people to find their own solutions and repair harm.
We can support staff in school to run their own restorative circle or, if staff would like to be involved in the circle and have their views heard, we can facilitate for you.