How restorative is your school?

RESTORATIVE PRACTICES(RP)- “An innovative approach to offending and inappropriate behaviour which puts repairing harm done to relationships and people over and above the need for assigning blame and dispensing punishment. A restorative approach in a school shifts the emphasis from managing behaviour to focussing on the building, nurturing and repairing of relationships. Schools need relationship management policies, which consider everyone’s needs and responsibilities towards each other, rather than behaviour management policies. Behaviour management policies tend to focus only on the behaviour of young people and the imposition of sanctions has the potential to harm the crucial adult/student relationships on which good teaching and learning depend.

 The Restorative Approach is based on the notion that people need to take responsibility for the impact of their behaviour on other people and that the consequence of harmful (i.e. upsetting/distressing/ disruptive/destructive) behaviour is that relationships are damaged and people get disconnected.

An important restorative belief is that the people best placed to resolve a conflict or a problem are the people involved, and that imposed solutions are less effective, less educative and possibly less likely to be honoured.  Restorative responses are focussed on healing the disconnections between people wherever possible when they do happen.”  (Hopkins, B. 2003 ‘Restorative Justice in Schools’, Mediation in Practice, April pp4-9)









Being = Internalized belief & philosophy

Doing = prescriptive and used as a strategy


-Restorative way of being is modeled within the school culture by all stakeholders

-Restorative Practices (RP) are fully embedded within the school culture.




-Based on mutually determined principles


-Effort is made to utilize RP concepts



-RP application is  circumstance dependant





-Input is considered for  determining principles

-RP may be present within the school but only practiced by a limited few


-RP application is ad-hoc and fully stakeholder dependant





-Input not requested when principles determined


-RP is non-existent




-School may be aware of restorative values and approaches but does not use them or invite stakeholders to learn about them.


-Principles imposed


Stakeholders investment in & connection to Restorative Approach


-All school stake holders are provided with and encouraged to explore RP initiatives and training in an effort to further enhance RP values within the school culture


-Leadership promotes Restorative Practices as primary



-School staff fully understand and embrace the RP approach




-Staff support one another to ensure effective implementation to RP approach


-RP information is visible and accessible throughout the  school

-Staff and students are encouraged to learn more about the values of RP and participate in RP initiatives




-Leadership includes the use of the RP approach




-School staff have varying levels of understanding and confidence in  implementing the RP approach


- Some staff support one another to ensure effective  implementation to RP approach


- Some RP information is visible and accessible

-School acknowledges the value of RP and encourages staff and students to further their understanding of this practice. RP initiatives are rarely instituted school wide


-Leadership allows the use of RP approaches in some circumstances



-Some individual staff members working to implement the RP approach



-RP focused Staff are working in isolation




-Minimal RP information is  available upon request

-Stake holders are permitted to learn more about RP but are not invited to implement any RP activities




-Leadership discourages the use of RP




-Leadership promotes a retributive approach to conflict




-RP focused staff are working in  secrecy, lack of understanding and awareness of RP



-No promotion of or accessibility to RP  information


Comprehensive school wide approach.

Guides practices


- RP is embedded in Codes of Conduct which are collaboratively designed by all stake holders


-Emphasis is on values and beliefs as to how we treat each other

-Codes of Conduct reflect some RP values and input from stake holders is considered



-Emphasis is on promotion of predetermined character educational traits

-Codes of Conduct are created by people in power with some consultation from stake holders.  Limited RP value.


-Emphasis is on maintaining order using behavioural rules


-Codes of Conduct are retributive and autocratic




-Emphasis is on imposed rules and consequences to ensure compliance


Meets the needs of all individuals


-Recognizes and responds to each individual’s uniqueness



-Adapts the RP process in response to individual needs and abilities


-Behaviour Management strategies are flexible and accommodate the whole school community


- Efforts made to recognize and respond to each individual’s uniqueness


-Some modification to the RP process is considered; typically circumstance dependant


-Behaviour Management strategies try to be flexible and strive to consider the needs of all

-Lack of awareness of individual needs



-Any adjustments to RP process, if available, is staff dependant


-Behaviour Management strategies are limited and tend to be a one size fits all approach.  Invites affected parties to take part in ‘RP process’ with predetermined outcomes

-School community is expected to conform



-No flexibility in application of rules, regulation and consequences


-Behaviour Management strategies are punitive


Connection to student success and learning

-Proven preventative initiatives such as Character Education are a way of being within the school community.





-Primary focus is on building & development of Relationships



-Staff  supports RP initiatives







-Principles and practices of RP are embedded in the curriculum



-Classroom management strategies embody and demonstrate RP principles



-Students actively engaged in learning fundamental skills: active listening, empathy, non- blaming communication, understanding perceptions, recognition of different communication styles and approaches, tolerance and acceptance.

-Preventative initiatives throughout the school community are encouraged and tend to be used.





-Relationship development is considered as important



-Staff support RP initiatives in some circumstances






-Efforts are made to creatively  include RP in the curriculum




-Classroom management strategies allow for the use of RP principles



-Curriculum includes learning about the principals and practices of RP

-School wide preventative initiatives are instituted but tend not to be embraced or are viewed as ‘flavour of the month’ intervention.  It’s common for staff to work in Silos.


-Relationship development focus is dependent on time constraints


-Some staff support RP initiatives






-Some inclusion of RP in the curriculum




-Classroom management strategies sometime employ RP principles when convenient



-Learning about RP curriculum is indirect or incidental

-School works from a reactive perspective rather than embracing preventative initiatives.





-Primary focus is on maintaining order



-Staff don’t support RP initiatives






-No curriculum connections developed or used reflecting RP principles



-Authoritarian classroom & disciplinary strategies employed



-Learning emphasis is on achieving academic objectives 



-All stake holders such as students, parents, staff and community partners are invited to play a role in creating a healthy and inclusive school community


-Teachers and students collaborate in designing classroom guidelines for sustaining and building community



-The school community takes an active approach to ensure all members feel welcome and included

-Stake holders are consulted in the creation of a healthy and inclusive school community





-Teachers work with student input in designing classroom guidelines for sustaining and building community




-School community members are encouraged to take an active approach in making members feel welcome

-School creates the illusion of a healthy and inclusive school community.  Feedback from stake holders is not sought out




-Teachers may consider student input in designing classroom guidelines for sustaining and building community but retain final say



-Individual community members are tasked with the responsibility to make members feel welcome


-The culture is not conducive to a healthy and inclusive environment.  The school is alienated from its stake holders.



-Classroom rules are prescriptive and imposed






-School community is not cohesive; thereby creating social isolation


-Students independently  engaged in interpersonal problem solving skills







-School community consistently and respectfully embraces all members of its community and offers practical, moral and emotional assistance to those harmed and those causing harm if and where needed


-Students are encouraged and supported to engage in interpersonal problem solving skills






-School community is encouraged to embrace all members of its community in a practical, moral and emotional manner




-Students lack skills for interpersonal problem solving skills







-Offers practical, moral and emotional assistance to those harmed and those causing the harm if and where needed.





-Students engage in assultive behaviour  on the yard!!







-Fails to respond respectfully or to provide practical, moral or emotional assistance to all involved







(focus on building)

-Primary school wide focus is on positive relationship development


-The fundamental belief that positive relationship development supports student engagement and success


-In class learning consistently includes interpersonal skills, community building & understanding


-Students are provided with the tools, and encouraged to resolve their own conflicts


-Harm is address as a violation to the community. Opportunity for growth, learning, healing and change are prevalent

-Relationship development is one of a number of initiatives



-Recognition that positive relationship development has an effect on student engagement and success


-In class learning includes interpersonal skill development & community awareness



-Students are assisted with conflict resolution



-Harm is addressed as a violation to the person and reparations, opportunity for change and apologies are inconsistent

-Relationship development tends to be reactionary



-Positive relationship development has little to do with student engagement and success


- In class learning allows for interpersonal skill development & community building when problems arise


-Solutions to conflict may involve student input



-Harm is seen as a violation against the school rules. Opportunity for those who caused the harm to take steps to repair the harm (through compensation or physical work or actions) is provided. Little learning of the impact of ones actions on others is offered

-Primary school wide focus is on compliance and obedience



-The belief that academics drive the development of student support, engagement and success


-In class learning focuses on adherence to policies & procedures



-Solutions to conflict are imposed



-Harm is acknowledge through punishment with no opportunity to make things right.  Relationships are irreparably damaged


-Participants actively seek out RP approach when conflict arises




-Participants have full ownership of solutions



-Focus is on support and encouragement



-Utilizes a collaborative ‘working with’ approach


-Impartial facilitator allows participants to drive the RP process

-Participants are directed by staff into RP process when conflict arises




-Solutions are created with staff input



-Focus is on storytelling and determining the truth



-Utilizes a supportive ‘do for’ approach


-Facilitator supports students with RP process; includes ’teachable moments’

-RP process tends to be used as a last resort when conflict arises




-Solutions are driven by staff with little input from participants


-Focus is on quick and imposed resolutions



-Tends to incorporate a ‘do not’ method of fairness


-Facilitation may be provided; tends to be directive

-Conflict, when reported is addressed reactively and punitively




-Consequences imposed by authority figure



-Focus is on investigation, analysis, judgment, blame and punishment


-Institutes a dictatorial ‘do to’ approach


-Facilitating involves judging, analyzing & lecturing


Understanding and Growth


-Provides comprehensive and on-going opportunities for students to learn and internalize empathy for one another


-Allows for a meaningful exchange (open and honest) that allows for  full emotional expression


-When harm is caused, opportunity for direct and meaningful dialogue involving affected parties is facilitated in an effort to repair harm, promote understanding and create learning



-the focus is on the interests driving positions (why is it important) and the impact of the event rather than the specifics of the event


-Concept of empathy is explored and discussed with students




-Dialogue is supported; expression of emotion  explored within facilitators level of comfort


-Opportunity for direct and meaningful dialogue between the conflicting parties is offered but participants have limited control over the process.  Very little healing opportunity for school community.



-Effort is made to explore the impact of the event rather than the specifics of the event but interests may remain hidden.


-Empathy is discussed when problems arise





-Conversations tend to be more superficial. Empathy is not explored



-Very little opportunity for direct meetings between affected parties.  Communication is done with the help of an intermediary and focus tends to be on agreements and not necessarily about harm cased.


-Some impact may be recognized but interests remain hidden





-Perceived lack of empathy is responded to punitively





-Uses interrogative approach designed to assign blame




-Parties are separated and no opportunity to communicate or work together is afforded







-The focus is on positions and does create the opportunity for expression of interests


For Emergency Help:

  1. Call 911
  2. Go to your local hospital
  3. Call:
    1. Addictions & Mental Health Services KFLA  613-544-4229
    2. Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
    3. LGBT Youth Line 1-800-268-9688
    4. Detox Centre  613 549-6461

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