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Restorative Practice in the School Context
Transcript of Restorative Practice in the School Context
What is Restorative Practice?
How can it be used?
Argument and Evidence
How can it be used?
Schools have a responsibility to encourage students in a desire and understanding to want to achieve social harmony within their communities (McDonald, 2013). Many schools are trying to achieve this through the use of restorative practice.
What is Restorative Practice?
Restorative justice is a victim focused approach to crime or wrongdoings that says the person who is responsible for causing that harm is obligated to repair that harm (Consdine, 1995). A common tie of restorative justice is that it is used in a diversity of fields for example education, counselling, criminal justice, social work and organisational management.
Conclusion and References
Arguments and Evidence
Restorative practice puts a placement onto the community working harmoniously together. Parents can learn from the process and can be taught by their children. By beginning restorative practices it could then be transferred not only being used in the classroom, whole-school ethos, home environment but then into a wider community.
Restorative justice plays an active role in addressing the wrong and making it right. In education it encourages circles and groups of friends to share feelings, build on relationships and solve problems.
The informal and formal proactive processes of resolving these conflicts using restorative justice is then called restorative practice. It is a practice that has been incorporated into schools globally.
According to Hantzopoulous (2013) it strongly differs from traditional punitive justice.
Punitive Justice Asks:
Restorative Justice Asks:
Restorative practice believes when harm has been caused it is a strong violation of relationships. Instead of demanding that person who has done the wrongdoings has time out, it is about ensuring that, that person has time in. Finding humanity, repairing relationships above the need to place blame and dispense punishment.
To use restorative practice you need a supportive and secure environment for all. Whereby instead of focusing on blame and names such as 'bully', 'victim' or 'bystander', people involved need to drop the labels and engage in repairing (Smith, Pepler & Rigby, 2004)
Restorative Practice Requirements:
Adapted from Braithwaite, (2002).
What can this look like in schools?
Here is an introduction of how Grey Court Comprehensive and St Richards Primary School in England use restorative practices.
Let’s take a look...
What are some of the
Circle time or peace circles are often used in schools. Quite often in Primary schools they can be used as a way to start the day or at allocated times in a school week. Every class member sits around in a circle and gets a turn to express briefly to the class on a particular topic. For example “What do you need to get the best out of yourself?” The teacher could also request the class to develop a set of rules and expectations the class must abide to during circle time.
Some good rules to follow would be;
What is said during circle time stays in circle time.
Be sensible, no bad words.
Respect what others are saying.
Other approaches to restorative practices can be in prompt when an incident has arisen between students. A teacher or trained peer mediator then would be approached by the person who has been harmed. The mediator would then work through scripted questions. The questions would usually initial no leading questions or prompts but revolve around feelings and own reflections (Smith et al., 2004).
The student is then given time alone to reflect and the same process is repeated with everyone that is involved in the incident. Once each person involved is calm and ready to talks they are given an opportunity to express how they felt and what they were thinking at the time identifying their needs.
It is not always seen in a circle situation. It could be used during a lesson rather than the teacher approaching a student saying “Why are you not getting on with your work, get on with it!” The teacher could alternatively ask “What is going on today? Do you understand what you’re supposed to be doing today?” In this situation it could be relatively discreet and the attention drawn to the student would be minimal. This concept shifts the emphasis from managing the behaviour to focusing on the building and nurturing of relationships (McDonald, 2013).
Why is it beneficial?
Restorative practice; teaches students to work positively together on relationships which can have a positive effect, enhancing learning. The skills that can be developed can be transferred into the playground or at home whereby students are equipped to resolve issues themselves.
Students can grow in their own abilities to verbally express themselves. As stated in McDonald's (2013) text researchers found that in schools that were using restorative practice strategies there was “A success rate of 95 per cent was reported in reaching a resolution acceptable to disputing parties” (p.94).
The values behind restorative practices echoes ancient and indigenous practices employed in cultures over the world (Consdine, 1995). These values can then easily be used with a school that has strong diversity in cultures. Creating calm, and preventing the harm, allowing students to realise their actions conceive consequences.
There has been studies undertaken on this philosophy. In Harney's study as cited in McDonald's text (2013) found the following:
In Harney's (2005) study to determine the effectiveness of Restorative Justice Programs in a number of NSW schools, he found that over an 18 month period, such negative behaviours such as absenteeism, detentions and school suspensions were significantly reduced. (p. 94).
What are the weaknesses?
There are still some outstanding issues that could be entailed whilst implementing the restorative practice program in a school. There is limited evaluation data that has been collected to estimate the success rate overall of implementing restorative practices within schools. Nor is there a standardised measurement tool being used (Hansen, 2005).
Some of the limitations of using restorative practice is for it to fully work, it is necessary to be a part of the schools underpinning. And a part of the school's philosophy rather than just an add on.
It should be embedded within a school's environment and policies, where teachers and peer mediators are professionally trained on the practice. So that they have the ability in the situation to ask non-judgemental or leading questions. The environment should be safe for a child to want to speak and disclose how they feel (Hansen, 2005).
The training days could be potentially timely and costly for the school. Therefore it may not be a possibility for some schools. The results are not generally seen immediately but over an extended period of time. School may still see the students who are causing the harm continue, but the harm may just lessen in severity.
This could then question if it is progress. Or does time change people? Would have the offences lessened or dissipated through the child’s adolescence years?
If the schools are using peer mediators and their roles are not explicitly stated and they are not trained they could believe they are security or teachers. Not helping to maintain a balance amongst their peers. The person who has suffered the harm may not feel comfortable being helped by certain people (Hasen, 2005).
This is an example where restorative practice could go wrong; from Summer Heights High.
It also may be more effective to have this program introduced from a young age. Many primary schools have secondary schools they feed into using a similar ethos. If they have not had this structure or behavioural awareness from a young age, the student may not know how to share or communicate their emotions in an explicit way and could have difficulty doing so (McDonald, 2013).
Using restorative practice would be an effective classroom management strategy. It can alter students’ minds by accepting responsibilities, forgiving, engaging and maintaining relationships. It is achieved through modelling qualities such as; tolerance, inclusiveness, respect, integrity and most importantly forgiveness.
Similarly, promoting connections between different aged students, students and teachers, pride in the community and peacemaking. The strategy can work in a classroom setting, but the success rate would be higher as a whole school philosophy. It allows students to think and reflect on their own thoughts, along with the ability to work through conflict resolutions.
Consedine, J. (1993). Restorative Justice Healing The Effects of Crime. New Zealand: Ploughshares Publications.
Hantzopoulos, M. (2003). Introduction to Restorative Justice Ideals and Practice. The Fairness Committee: Restorative Justice in a Small Urban Public High School. Vol. 20, Issue 1, 7-10.
Braithwaite, J. (2002). Setting Standards for Restorative Justice. Brit. J. Criminol, 42, 563-577. Retrieved from
McDonald, T. (2013). Classroom Management: Engaging Students in Learning (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Smith, P., Pepler, D., & Rigby, K. (2004). Bullying in Schools How Successful Can Interventions Be?. UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hansen, T. M. S. (2005). Restorative Justice Practices and Principles in Schools. Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking, Retrieved from http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/rjp/resources/rj_dialogue_resources/RJ_Dialogue%20Approaches/default.asp