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A Restorative Approach at Childs Hill School

Childs Hill School prides itself on being a Restorative School. We feel our restorative approach (RA) is central to whom we are, and that it permeates all areas of school life. It touches all our community members (pupils, staff, parents, carers, governors, visitors, students, etc).  You can read more about the work of the Restorative Justice organisation here.

As an RA school, we recognise that:

  • The better relationships are, the better teachers can teach and students learn.
  • Conflict resolution is a life-skill that our young people will need throughout their life.
  • Everyone will make mistakes with their behaviour just as they do with learning.
  • People need a chance to learn from these mistakes and put them right.

We ensure that RA is always a high priority through dedicated time put aside for staff training each year.

What is RA?

RA is an approach to behaviour management where shared values, a caring attitude, good relationships, mutual respect and a sense of belonging are key factors. RA is about empowerment, giving everyone a voice.

RA acknowledges that conflicts and behaviours happen. Rather than seeking to blame and dispense punishment, RA repairs harm by finding acceptable ways to move forward for all parties concerned. This helps avoid conflicts by investing time in developing, maintaining and repairing relationships.

RA influences and informs our teaching styles.

What does this approach look like at Childs Hill School?

Childs Hill School does not have a behaviour policy; it has a Relationships Policy, that focuses on every individual’s rights and responsibilities.

Every person in our community has a voice and has the right to be listened to and heard.

There are regular effective circle times, which are used to build a community and to solve problems. Children are taught to be emotionally literate and to express their needs.

Children use their skills as peer mediators and school council members. The peer mediators support a happy playground. Our school council empowers the children to make changes.

RA conferences are used in situations where someone has been harmed or negative behaviour has occurred. Each person has the right to be listened to alone.

Childs Hill School works closely with many other organisations. It is a member of the Restorative Justice Council. It also has a close relationship with the company Transforming Conflict.

A further insight to our work can be viewed by clicking here on this film that we have produced.

What staff say:

‘It feels safe here.’

‘Restorative approaches has built a trust and understanding in the leadership team which allows open discussion without fear of recrimination.’

‘The use of RA has created a harmonious and fun, environment.  This has allowed us to feel safe and to take risks with our teaching and create fun and exciting activities, before the introduction of RA this would have been challenging to manage.’

‘There is a sense of calm and an understanding that everybody is valued. The atmosphere is positive and everyone is listened to.’

What the children say:

‘Teachers listen to us.’

‘I feel safe.’

‘When a teacher says they will sort something out, they mean it.’

What the parents say:

‘I have learnt a lot about how to help my child.’

‘I have changed the way I talk to my child.’

‘I try to listen more.’

‘My child is very happy at school; they feel safe.’

Kohn (1996) says; ‘The only way to help students become ethical people, as opposed to people who merely do what they are told, is to have them construct moral reason. It is to help them figure out- for themselves and with each other- how one ought to act.’

Further information

The RA script for conferences

RA has a script that is followed. Briefly the basic questions asked by trained staff are:

What happened? (What happened from your perspective?)

What were you thinking when …? (Thoughts influence actions)

What were you feeling when …? (Emotions influence actions)

Who has been affected by…? (Empathy)

What do you need now so that we can move on? (Needs and unmet needs)

How can we address everyone’s needs together? (Collective responsibility for problem solving and decision making)