Restorative practice works in schools - guest blog
As we look forward to the Restorative Justice conference on Friday 5 July, I have invited a professional who practices restorative practices in schools to write a guest blog. This is Maxine Fox, Head of Pupil Development and Wellbeing at Sarum Academy, in Salisbury:
I emphasise the term restorative practice in education as it is far more than restorative justice.
It is a philosophy, a way of being that needs to guide the way we act in all our dealings with other people within the school community.
Building a restorative school environment, in which everyone feels listened to and valued, leads to a sense of shared responsibility.
This promotes healthy relationships, identifies common values and guidelines, develops social and emotional understanding and promotes a sense of belonging. So when pupils' emotional and academic needs are being met, only then do you see true learning.
Using a shared restorative language in all our interactions, will and does have a major impact on the outcomes. This is also true of our body language as well as any verbal comments.
A zero tolerance approach to behaviour sees the adults seeking control using the system to inflict suffering on the pupil through the use of punishments, this leaves the pupil feeling powerless victimised and resentful towards that adult.
Whereas with restorative practices it's the use of a restorative meeting and fair and logical consequences that allow everyone to look closely at their behaviours and consider the results of their choices, recognising the impact that their actions have on others.
Let me give you a real life example: A year 10 girl had sworn at her maths teacher; in the past this would have been an automatic exclusion no matter what, but on this occasion the maths teacher came to see me.
She told me that she feels that she handled the situation badly and if she had thought about her actions the year 10 girl would not have got angry and sworn at her.
The maths teacher asked if they could have a meeting so they both get the opportunity to apologise to each other. The meeting worked, it was amazing as both were so honest about things. They really understood each other afterwards.
Not only did the year 10 girl have successful maths lessons from then on but the teacher became almost a mentor to her and this really helped the girl to succeed.
I have been involved in the implementation of restorative practices in many different school settings. I have seen the improvements it makes and watched so many young people develop in character and succeed in school, many who would have been unsuccessful in other schools.
I will leave you with the quote from Maya Angelo: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."