Restorative Approaches is an innovative way of dealing with relationship difficulties or problematic behaviour in school settings. The use of these approaches has been developing in schools in Fife, and elsewhere in Scotland, over the past few years.
When schools adopt Restorative Approaches, they are adopting a way of thinking, talking and being together as a community which gives every member an opportunity to be supported and challenged to develop a genuine respect and care for themselves and others.
A number of factors contribute towards successful Restorative Approaches, including a positive school ethos, a shared solution-focussed attitude and a belief that everyone within the school community deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Within this ethos of trust, effective co-operation and communication can be established so that when conflict arises, individuals are encouraged to pursue Restorative Approaches towards resolution of this conflict. Trained staff and pupils will support both the individual who has brought about the harm/damage and the person they’ve harmed to talk through the issues safely and reach a solution which benefits everyone.
What is needed for the person being harmed?
- A chance to talk and be understood
- Someone to listen empathically
- A genuine apology
- Amends to be made
- Support and acceptance
- An agreed solution
- To close the door and be able to walk away, with the situation resolved and self-esteem restored
What is needed for the person that caused the harm/damage?
- A chance to explain and to understand what happened
- A chance to apologise
- A time to put things right
- To feel better about it
- To change what needs to be changed to make sure it doesn’t happen again
- To be forgiven
- A chance to make it up to the person they’ve harmed
- To re-assure them/yourself that it won’t happen again
This process has proved to be more effective than the traditional method of dealing with harm/damage by the use of punishments: its effects on the individuals involved and the whole school community are powerful and long-lasting. When Restorative Approaches are part of the day-to-day working in a school, they lead to a calmer atmosphere and improved relationships between staff, pupils and parents. Detailed evidence of its impact is provided by an evaluation carried out jointly by Edinburgh/Glasgow University of a 3-year pilot project where Restorative Approaches were introduced to schools in 3 Local Authorities, including Fife. This can be accessed at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/08/23161140/0.
Further information on Restorative Approaches can be obtained from the school.