Restorative Practices

 The question often arises; ‘With all its conflicting values, confused attitudes and pressure from peers and the media, how do best I equip my daughter/son to cope in the modern world?’ Research has proven what we intuitively know to be true, that is, when individuals have the capacity to form and maintain healthy relationships; they are more likely to mature to become successful and happy people. 

Restorative Practices is a process that enables students to grow and develop a strong relational skill set, equipping them well for managing life both at and beyond school.

It is almost two years now since the school adopted a Restorative Practices approach to resolving conflict. The restorative questions are a key component of Restorative Practices:

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking?
  • Who or what was hurt?
  • What are you thinking now?
  • How can we fix it?/What do you need to do to make things right?
  • What would you do differently next time?

Having used the restorative questions many, many times now with students of all ages for all sorts of different conflict situations I can attest to how effective the process is. 

I asked some Stage 1 children; did they find the questions helpful when fixing problems?

Ryder and Eva both said “yes,” adding that the questions were helpful…”because everyone gets a chance to say what happened.”

Ronin in Stage 3 stated, “that the questions help me to calm down when I’ve had a problem,’ and he also noted that ‘when he uses the questions in his role as a Playground Mediator the questions help younger children to calm down as well.”  

As the children put it so well – everyone involved gets a chance to tell their story, their experience of what happened. This is very powerful as each child then has a real sense of being heard and their experience is valued. Then they are ready to own their behaviour, identify who got hurt and work towards an agreed way forward…

What is Restorative Practice?

Restorative Practice offers teachers, parents and students a way of working together to build and maintain healthy relationships. Important to this process is the understanding that  we can come to see incidents of harm as opportunities for learning. This thinking helps us to  fix things up when they go wrong. We can do this by making a choice to repair the harm that has resulted from wrong doing instead of focusing attention on punishing wrongdoers. It does not mean we do not have consequences, but it does mean that we try and fix the underlying problems by having the wrong doer listen to the person who has been harmed and begin to assist in repairing that harm. In this way, learning and healing can be an outcome.

Another crucial part of Restorative Practices is Circle Time. All teachers are working towards making time at least once a week to implement Circle Time in their classes. 

Circle Time is a class based discussion process based on the following principles. 

Agency:

  • You can choose to pass. You only say what you are comfortable with
  • We will listen to you because what you say is important- this also means that you also listen to others.

Safety:

  • There are no put downs, only personal positives
  • You may pass

Positivity:

  • There are no put downs- only personal positives

Inclusion:

  • We listen to each other

Respect:

  • When one person is speaking we all listen
  • There are no put downs

Equality:

  • We listen to each other                        (Sue Roffey; Circle Time for Emotional Literacy)