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Restorative Practice in School: a Psychological Perspective Helen Cowie University of Surrey ESRC Restorative Justice Seminar, University of Nottingham,

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Presentation on theme: "Restorative Practice in School: a Psychological Perspective Helen Cowie University of Surrey ESRC Restorative Justice Seminar, University of Nottingham,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Restorative Practice in School: a Psychological Perspective Helen Cowie University of Surrey ESRC Restorative Justice Seminar, University of Nottingham, September 2010

2 What is restorative practice in school? Concept of caring, inclusive community Collective process of problem-solving Work with victims and perpetrators Also with whole school community

3 Restorative practice involves… …a cooperative rather than a punitive process with room for reconciliation and resolution of conflicts

4 Zero tolerance approaches Fail to make schools safer Actually increase suspensions and rates of misbehaviour Discriminate against minority groups and children with EBD (APA Zero Tolerance Task Force, 2008)

5 Working with the relationship Counselling psychology principles in harmony with RJ practice Problem-solving stance; congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard Narrative approaches value story-telling as a means of deepening understanding of complex issues

6 Telling your story in supportive context is therapeutic The basic experience of another person becoming a witness to ones account of troubles is meaningful and worthwhile (McLeod, 2000)

7 Outcomes can include… A more nurturing school climate Positive relationships among peer group Opportunities for enabling peers to manage own emotions

8 Initially training was counselling-based Active listening skills Empathy Problem-solving Being non-judgemental Regular supervision Practice took place in a designated room

9 Over time… Peer supporters themselves preferred a less-structured approach They suggested more informal approach, such as running lunchtime clubs Need too to keep pace with new forms of bullying, such as cyberbullying

10 Training also diversified… More facilitators (not all trained counsellors) Active role of NGOs (such as ChildLine and NSPCC) Now over 50% of UK schools have some form of peer support in place

11 Peer support also diversified… Buddies or befrienders (friendship benches; running lunchtime clubs) Offering a drop-in room for support with difficulties Mediation/conflict resolution Peer mentoring (running workshops; looking out for vulnerable peers) Cybermentors offer support in the Internet

12 Outcomes for peer supporters Peer supporters definitely benefit in terms of self- esteem, confidence, empathy, responsibility and doing something worthwhile in the school (Andres, 2007; Naylor & Cowie, 1999; Cowie et al, 2002)

13 Outcomes for users Appreciate the support (Naylor & Cowie, 1999; Cowie et al, 2002) Bullied children feel safer (Andres, 2007; Smith & Watson, 2004) Even in extreme situations find it helpful (Cowie & Olafsson, 2001)

14 Outcomes for school ethos positive.. Peer support system reassures pupils, even if they dont use it Peer support system shows the school cares Gives positive experience of school as caring Social exclusion decreases significantly (Andres, 2007)

15 But some difficulties… Mixed effects on experiences and perceptions of school safety (Salmivalli, 2001) Widespread lack of awareness of system (Cowie & Oztug, 2008) Limited impact when not part of a whole-school policy (Cowie et al, 2008) Some teachers remain sceptical (Smith & Watson, 2004)

16 Restorative practice as part of a whole school policy… … helps create an environment where children feel safer - and offers strategies to empower them

17 New projects… build on teachers and students willingness to play an active part

18 Thank you for listening www.ukobservatory.com


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