The Principles of Restorative Justice
Since September 2012 the school has adopted the principles of Restorative Justice to underpin our behaviour policy, the school’s ethos and to build a real sense of school community.
We work closely with The Restorative Foundation to up to date with any changes, share good practice and to complete training.
The aims are to:
Build a sense of connection and belonging for all members of a school community
Develop understanding and appreciation of differences and difficulties
Participate actively in promoting social responsibility and building a school climate of mutual respect
As a school we aim to do this through regular check in and check out circles. These happen at the beginning and end of each day in classes and give all children an opportunity to be heard. Children are asked to measure their well being on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being very low and 5 being high. In order for there to be full engagement in learning children have to have good well being [3 or above]. If a child has lower well-being they will be given the chance for talk time to share any worries, problems or barriers to their learning. On occasion teachers may also take the opportunity for a check up circle after lunch.
Through circle time children build stronger connections and relationships with their peers and with the school as a wider community. People with strong links and relationships are less likely to hurt or upset others and if they do they want to put things right again more quickly. This is restoring justice.
At times people make mistakes that take more to put right but the principles of restorative justice still play a large role with both parties being able to put forward their views and feelings. They are then encouraged to put things right and have a say in the consequences fitting for the action.
All staff are trained in the principles for restorative justice. There are currently three lead practitioners amongst the staff. Pupils in Years 5 and 6 are now also involved in being restorative leaders and younger pupils can approach them to help resolve minor issues.
When an incident occurs children will be asked the same questions:
- What has happened?
[This gives a factual and less emotive account of the incident that asking the question ‘why’ which often gets a defensive response]
- Who has been affected, hurt or upset?
[We encourage children to think beyond the immediate group and extend this to other peers, class teachers or other staff and even parents]
- What can we do to put it right [to restore justice]?
[The consequences of the action should be fitting and need to be agreed by all partied involved]
What difference have circle times made in school?
- Given children a voice and a time to talk
- Children can identify common ground with their peers
- All members of the school have started to build connections with each other
- Gives a clear structure to beginning and end of every day
- Gives a more consistent approach throughout the school
So, what do our children think?
- It gave me a really good way to find out about everyone in my class when I was new. I got to know people quickly and make friends easier.
- We like the circles because it is time to talk, to share our ideas and to hear other people’s thoughts. Everyone gets to talk.
- I like sitting down and listening to the other people. It’s good to tell other people what you feel like and stuff. It helps us know about each other.
What the staff say:
- “Restorative justice works really well for solving problems. It stops the situation blowing up out of control by asking ‘what has happened’. It takes the heat out of the moment. [I even use it at home!]”
- “Having been quite cynical initially I can now see the full benefits of restorative justice.”
Parents and carers are invited to join their children’s class from time to time to share in open circle time.