As a Pastoral Worker, How Can I Use Restorative Practice in My School?

11 January 2023
Colored pencils next to a stack of books.

Can you tell me more about restorative practice and how I might use this as a pastoral worker in my school? (Hannah, Pastoral Worker)

One of the places that we have seen restorative practice work fantastically well is in a school that has previously faced many difficult behavioural challenges and since using restorative practices they have had the most extraordinary turnaround.

During a restorative meeting the pastoral manager at this school goes through the same six questions routinely.

A good restorative meeting will only take 10 minutes each time, it should not be a laboured meeting lasting for an hour with many different people involved. It should just be the classroom or pastoral teacher/manager and the child.

The following six questions are the best routine to get children into so they can reflect on these questions:

  • What has happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time?This is important for both for the class teacher/pastoral worker and the student
  • Who has been affected by the actions? Really critical question as many children just feel as though it is them who has been affected, but as they realise more people have been affected (parents, the teacher, other children, pastoral workers) it starts to internally question their behaviour
  • How have they been affected?  
  • What needs to be done now to make things right?
  • How can we do things differently in the future? 

These six questions should be the basis for all restorative meetings within a school. It is not always possible to conduct individual meetings with the students as the teachers are extremely busy.

Although the preference is for the class teacher to take this responsibility, when necessary a pastoral manager can take the responsibility to have that conversation with the student and this can also work brilliantly.

We have seen these six questions in some schools on the back of the teacher’s lanyards, on posters around the schools or even given to peer mentors to introduce to the children.

This ensures everyone knows these questions and what to expect during a restorative meeting. You can also share these questions with parents too as often they pick up on these and use them at home.

The children know and remember these questions and so when they come into these meetings, they have already thought about their answers.

One of the big mistakes people make around restorative practice is that the meeting is a prelude to an apology. The child is often expected to apologies at the end of the meeting, and this shouldn’t be the case otherwise this meeting is false, and children learn to give standard answers and then nothing is furthered.

If an apology comes at the end of the meeting, then that’s a bonus. Sometimes it may even be the teacher who needs to apologise. This is not an interview for the child, but a reflection for all parties. You as the teacher need to answer the questions alongside the child.

Using the framework of the above six questions is at the heart of successful restorative practice.
Visit our pages for more information on the Classroom Culture train-the-trainer programme, our Hearts & Minds INSET, or how your school can get a Behaviour Health Check.
For more answers to your questions see our Q&A introduction page.

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