Peer mediation training offers an opportunity for pupils to learn the skills required to help others resolve conflict. When implemented successfully, peer mediation can improve pupils' communication skills, provide an alternative to teacher arbitration, help prevent minor conflicts from escalating and make a significant contribution to calmer and more peaceful schools.
Bullying, name-calling, playground squabbles: some adults and parents may think these are trivial problems, but how children deal with them is the learning material that will form their attitudes towards conflict in later life. Children can learn how to resolve these playground conflicts themselves, and learn lessons in negotiation and compromise that can change the community they live in, both in school and in later life. Children will demonstrate creativity, patience and integrity in resolving their conflicts and this can form the basis for a sense of empathy and mutual understanding as they grow and develop into adulthood. Peer mediation training is invariably considered to be one of a range of techniques and skills, under the much broader term of conflict resolution.
Teachers play a vital role in helping to weave the scheme into the fabric of the school. This is achieved both through discussion in class and by including a peer mediation system into a whole-school policy on behaviour management and pastoral care. It is important that school staff understand the concepts of conflict resolution and peer mediation training programmes and how these complement a number of approaches including restorative practice, circle time, anti-bullying strategies, peer leadership training, peer counselling, peer mentoring and equality and diversity programmes dealing with prejudice and stereotypes.
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