Restorative Practice in Schools
Gloucestershire County Council, have partnered with Restorative Gloucestershire in an exciting new initiative which brings together the expertise of both organisations, intent on improving the school experience for children and young people in Gloucestershire. Our focus is to reduce exclusions of young people, build stronger relationships, develop emotional literacy and resilience and have more pupil involvement in their school communities.
After an initial pilot scheme in 2016/17 of 2 schools, we now have 8 participating restorative practice schools: Beaufort Co-operative Academy, Moat Primary School, Harewood Junior School, Calton Primary School, Grange Primary School, Tuffley Primary School, The Dean Academy and Tewkesbury School. I had the pleasure of visiting Moat Primary School recently, witnessing a calm, supportive, respectful environment – a far cry from the school before the implementation of restorative practice which had an extremely high rate of exclusions and a daily battle with challenging behaviour.
Restorative practice in schools is not all focused on pupil behaviour and repairing harm, that’s only part of it. For it to really work in a school it has to be embedded in the school culture, in every interaction with pupils, and between teachers themselves. Lessons need to be delivered in an inclusive way, encouraging participation of every child, in a safe and respectful environment. Gone is the punitive system, replaced with restorative conversations based on high challenge and high support. Each school has trained all their staff, not just teachers, as well as Restorative Stars & Champions who provide peer to peer support. It is indeed a total change in school culture and as such takes time to become fully integrated.
So what is our project doing to support these schools? 22 volunteers with an incredible wealth of life skills, experience and professional knowledge have now been recruited as an additional resource for the 8 restorative practice schools. These volunteers are Gloucestershire County Council volunteers coordinated by myself, based with the Restorative Gloucestershire team at Waterwells. After training in September and October, they will co-facilitate level 2 interventions alongside a trained school’s restorative practice facilitator, for more serious conflicts such as bullying, inappropriate sexual behaviour, etc. to resolve conflict and repair harm. Volunteers may also help to repair harm in lower levels of conflict, typically using detention time more effectively.
We will review this exciting new project in the autumn to see how it evolves further with feedback from volunteers.
Julia Davey, Restorative Practice Volunteer Coordinator.
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