Restorative Practices

How do we deal with conflict at St James?

You may have heard the term ‘Restorative Justice’ in schools when we talk about dealing with conflict or behavior issues. We believe firmly in the philosophy of a ‘no blame’ approach but where students are held every bit accountable for their actions and decisions. We are a Catholic school and we know that Jesus was a forerunner in the building of the Restorative approach. Have a read of John chapter 8 – a great example of no-blame.

Here are the key concepts in a ‘Restorative’ approach when something goes wrong…

  • No blame (we find that more truth is found when people are willing to open up in a non- threatening environment)
  • Everyone has a voice (we find that people feel validated when they are genuinely heard)
  • Students are responsible for finding a solution (we find that when people own the solution, they are more likely to learn from their mistakes)
  • Feelings are communicated (we find that both sides of the argument benefit from hearing genuine perspectives)
  • It follows our school learning theme of Building Independent and Responsible Learners

It’s not an easy method to grasp if you’ve been brought up to believe in “an eye for an eye”. Often you just want to know, “Why did you do that?” when in fact, the restorative way is to begin with the question, “What happened?” – This sets up the no-blame environment. It’s also very hard to hand over control to students, when you as an adult believe you have the right answers. But when you’ve seen it work, time and time again, where all parties come away feeling empowered, you begin to see its true power.

Please ask about our Restorative Practice if you are still wanting more clarification. It’s certainly not an easy one to lecture via a pamphlet or newsletter article, but it’s worth planting the seed of conversation. Ideally, the culture needs to be same at home as it is at school.