The aim of Restorative Practices in our Catholic and Mercy school community is to strengthen relationships and to manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm as a way of building community and responding to God’s call. The restorative practices philosophy is a values based approach that derives from the teachings of the Gospel and contemporary research into health and wellbeing. Restorative practices help develop resilient and self-regulating learners, thus creating a positive learning environment.
The principles of restorative practices are:
- To foster in the student an awareness of how others have been affected by their actions
- To avoid scolding or lecturing - this often results in the student reacting defensively
- To actively involve the student instead of simply handing out a punishment which the student is expected to accept passively - in a restorative intervention the student is held accountable as they commit to repair any harm caused and help to determine consequences
- To accept ambiguity - often the fault is unclear and people can agree to accept this
- To separate the deed from the doer - we can recognise a student’s worth, their virtues and accomplishments whilst still disapproving of their wrongdoing
- To see every instance of wrongdoing and conflict as an opportunity for learning - negative incidents can be used constructively to build empathy and a sense of community in the hope that there is a reduction of negative incidents in the future
A restorative intervention involves bringing together everyone involved in an incident where harm to a relationship has been caused. The following questions are commonly used:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking at the time?
- What have you thought about since?
- Who was affected?
- How were they affected?
- What do you need to do to make things right?
These questions enable all involved to talk about what has happened and how they and others have been affected. They seek to find a way forward by deciding what is the best way for the harm to be repaired and what outcome would best meet their needs and ensure that the incident will not be repeated.
The use of restorative practices does not mean students do not have consequences for inappropriate actions. Each incident is dealt with on an individual basis and appropriate consequences result. These consequences range from community service to internal suspension and exclusion from classes.
Restorative practices resonate with the beliefs and practices of our community where our Mercy values of Excellence, Justice, Compassion and Hospitality underpin all that we are and all that we do.
“The simplest and most practical lesson I know…. Is to resolve to be good today - but better tomorrow. Let us take one day only in hands - at a time, merely making a resolve for tomorrow. Thus we may hope to get on - taking short careful steps, not great strides.”
-(Catherine McAuley - Letter to de Sales White February 28, 1841)