Beyond punishment: reframing behaviour in schools

Paul Howard

This document explores the broader context within which restorative practices are located and is intended to stimulate consideration of the most appropriate models of disciplinary practice in schools.

Restorative practice in schools is derived from the principles that underpin restorative justice, the central tenets of which are to repair harm to individuals, relationships and communities, instead of apportioning blame, handing down judgements and prescribing sanctions. Restorative practice is not merely a set of techniques for responding to conflict, but also a cultural perspective that is underpinned by values of fairness, empowerment, inclusion and responsibility. It is further informed by an acceptance of conflict as natural and by understandings of social relationships. Whether incorporated within the ways in which members of the school community communicate and interact on a daily basis, or within formal mediation settings, restorative practice integrates the skills of problemsolving, open-ended questioning, active listening, facilitation and emotional literacy.