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Restorative Practice at SFOA

Maire Bowler —

At St Francis of Assisi, we believe that the best way to manage relationships is through Restorative Practice.

Restorative practices are now embedded in our school culture and are underpinned by our school values of Respect, Compassion, Service and Integrity. Through using Restorative Practice, as part of our daily practice we are constantly promoting and ensuring a climate of care. By this we mean a school environment based on core restorative principles of inclusion, the repair of harm, and reintegration, reinforced by strong support around building relationships.

What is Restorative Practice?

Our most common strategy is the restorative chat. This is a way of responding to relationship problems (conflict, disagreements, bullying etc) by bringing together all those who are involved, to find a way of acknowledging wrongdoing, attempting to repair any harm that was done and finding a way of reintegrating the wrongdoer back into the hub community.

How does Restorative Practice work?

Most restorative chats at school are about conflict between children and are facilitated by a teacher or one of the senior leadership team. The conflict could be between two children or between groups of children. The approach is the same; the conflict is unpacked as much as is required for the adult to understand the situation leading up to the conflict and to ascertain the sequence of events. There are strict guidelines that are followed and the children have the guidelines pointed out to them at the outset. These include;

  • one person speaking at a time without any interruption or refuting of their perception of the events,

  • each child has the opportunity to speak and can disagree with what has been said,

  • the teacher facilitates the discussion without passing any judgement

  • All parties work towards understanding the feelings that have arisen before, during and after the incident.

During the chat, common ground, understanding and empathy is reached. It is at this time that both parties acknowledge any fault and apologies are made in order to restore the relationship.

If a consequence is required as in the case of physical, emotional harm or bad language, the children and adults will come to an agreement about a consequence that befits the harm. All parties understand that at the end of the consequence or chat, the slate is wiped clean with no grudges held.

Our teachers have had training in facilitating restorative chats. Our peer mediators (senior students) have also had some training in using restorative chats in the playground.