Adapted from the Restorative Justice Council website:
The Children’s Commissioner, Dr Maggie Atkinson, highlighted restorative approaches as good practice in managing pupils with challenging behaviour in her 2012 report into schools exclusions, ‘They never give up on you’.
The report was the result of the first year of an ongoing inquiry into school exclusions by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
On the prevention of, and alternatives to, exclusions, the report found that there was currently no guidance for schools on good practice in managing or commissioning provision for pupils with challenging behaviour and highlights characteristics which sum up good practice, including:
“The child’s underlying behavioural issues are dealt with, not simply ‘parked’. In the best cases, interventions include counselling provided by trained staff, and the use of formally implemented restorative approaches, both to confront students with the consequences of their behaviour, and to demonstrate what things could be like if matters improve.” (page 25)
The Commission heard from young people who had experienced restorative justice and how it had helped them change their behaviour:
“I had to sit down with this kid I’d kicked in, and he told me how much it had hurt, and how he didn’t know why I’d done it. It felt really weird, to be honest – when you lose it, you don’t think about this sort of thing.” (Boy, Year 10, north of England)
Others told the inquiry that this approach had helped them modify their behaviour. One said: “I’ve completely changed from what I used to be. Completely. I’ve calmed down and sorted myself out. I go to school every day and try to work and do everything I can.” (Boy, Year 9, south of England)