An article about school bullying caught my attention this week. It was written by a vicar (for some reason) in the UK who was talking about how restorative approaches are a gift for bullies.
If you’re ok, I won’t link to it as I don’t really want to popularise it. But I think you’ve got enough info to locate it if you’re so inclined.
It was supported by a UK behaviour tsar who has recently built a following here in Australia and has begun consultative work with a government or two. His conclusion, amongst other unproven accusations, is that restorative approaches are psychologically damaging to students and are a “bin fire” in every school in which they are deployed.
Cop that, eh? And terrible news for schools like Geelong Lutheran College, Mount View High School, Swansea Public School, Orange Grove Public School, Ferncourt Public School, Richmond Primary School and Kananook Primary School.
The article’s main criticism is that advocates of restorative approaches believe it is an alternative to punishment. Thereby, restorative schools are absent of any consequences.
This is no truer than saying that schools without restorative practices are universally cruel and unkind. It’s utter nonsense.
So, let’s be clear about two things:
- A sound, contemporary restorative school deploys consequences/punishments fairly and consistently. At Real Schools, we train our partner schools on three ways to do just that. It’s just that punishment isn’t the base of our work and is more commonly the exception.
- This sets nothing alight and causes no psychological trauma. In fact, it’s the opposite. Our partner schools report increased teacher effect and wellbeing, plus rises in student safety.
Lesson number one? If you aim to make an enemy of good educators achieving positive results in their schools just to place them opposite you on a convenient ideological battlefield … then you’re not in it for kids or teachers at all.
Lesson number two? If you’re a school leader who finds a way to improve culture, conduct, parental support, student learning outcomes, behaviour, bullying prevalence or any other school-related ambition – use it.
Don’t let any vicar, tsar, consultant or self-appointed expert (yep, including me) dissuade you when the evidence is under your nose each and every day.
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. In case you missed it, I released a White Paper, Caught in the Implementation Gap. I wrote it to help NSW Principals facing the implementation predicament as they seek to comply with the Restorative Practices-based Inclusive, Engaging and Respectful Schools Policy/Procedures. I’m also hosting a free webinar on 23 May at 4.45pm to give Principals practical advice and guidance to help navigate the complexities of implementing it in their schools. You can register here or watch this video to see why it’s worth registering.
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