Family Partnership

Restorative Practice is all about building and maintaining respectful and cooperative relationships. In school communities, this means relationships between school and home as well as between and among pupils and staff. A core belief is that building positive relationships will help to create a safe and secure climate for the development of young people and ensure that learning takes place in a context of trust and appreciation.

In schools involved with this training programme, parents and carers may expect to develop relationships with staff that are respectful and collaborative – sharing the task of achieving optimal development and learning for their children.

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What happens in a Restorative School?

  1. In class, circle go-arounds help to create a sense of community belonging and connection. This is not a competitive activity – differences are important and the process enables young people to be accepted for who they are, as well as who they are becoming. Each person is heard respectfully and each person learns to listen to the words of others.
  2. If there are meetings involving staff and family members, these will take place in circles. Relating to each other in a circle helps to support the restorative principle that everyone is heard and respected equally.
  3. Schools may provide an opportunity for some young people to become pupil leaders who support the use of circle activities and take action on the playground to help reduce the risk of bullying and social exclusion. Pupil leaders can also take an active role in helping to resolve conflict and disputes.
  4. Restorative conversations place an emphasis on helping young people learn how words and actions affect others. When responding to hurt and harm it is important that the process and all procedures are experienced as firm and fair, enabling each person to move forward positively and safely.
  5. When parents or carers are involved in a restorative meeting there will be opportunities to discuss the purpose of the meeting and the process that will take place. Holding a restorative conversation or meeting is not a soft option and it does not mean the school will no longer have policies in place that involve fair and agreed consequences.

 

Team

How may these ideas be applied in families?

 

1. Circle go-arounds:

In a family, as in a school, it is important to find time on a regular basis to have conversations in which the focus is on the talking and listening, even more than on the content of what is talked about. Providing an experience of being listened to, and listening to others, creates a sense of being valued and respected. This experience is a positive foundation for learning and development. There are many opportunities to provide this experience in families. One example would be a go-around routine when family members could hear what each person has enjoyed during that day.

We are all influenced by the way things are done. When the way things are done in a family includes an expectation of respectful speaking and listening, young people will develop self-respect and respect for others. The process of performing routine acts of talking and listening is a foundation for all successful learning and development.

2. Restorative conversations:

The purpose of a restorative conversation is to support learning and development when words and actions may have had a negative impact on someone else. Learning will involve individuals thinking and feeling differently about the situation they are involved in, and realising that each person contributes to the total situation.

Becoming aware is a process that requires imagination and a willingness to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. The basis for making this imaginative change in thinking and feeling is provided by a supportive and non-judgmental relationship.

The sequence of conversation will generally follow a structure of talking about:

  • What happened?
  • Who has been affected?
  • How have they been affected?
  • What needs to happen to put things right /fix things?

It is important not to assume a knowing about what happened or how others have been affected – the process is one of being curious and supporting learning. Rather than seek compliance by judging who is right and who is wrong, restorative conversation is a process that generates understanding, responsibility, co-operation and development.