Restorative Practice and Inclusion
Our school has adopted a ‘restorative’ approach to those events that occur in daily life, which may require conflict resolution.
We also work hard to ensure we are an inclusive school, by creating a supportive, respectful, barrier free environment that promotes diversity and equity for all.
When implemented properly, restorative practice coupled with the overarching commitment to inclusion, should enable everyone to feel respected, included, and supported at our school.
Our broad and far-reaching curriculum enables us to take a localised approach to learning and teaching. Our inclusive practices are developed through a student’s lived experiences, their exposure to other cultures and worldviews, and through an ‘age and stage’ special character approach.
Restorative and inclusive practices align directly to our developing key priorities which are guided by Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and the ethos of Steiner education as a healing process.
We strive to enhance our school-wide culture of mutual respect, care, and support even in the face of wrongdoing and relationship conflict.
It is also an opportunity for the wrong doer to reflect and learn about the consequences of their actions, to develop empathy for others, and to make amends in such a way as to strengthen the community bonds that may have been damaged.
We follow a process that helps to resolve any harm done (whether physical, social, or emotional), thereby resolving polarities and changing future behaviour.
In ensuring we honour the framework of our special character the three-fold picture of the human being is central to the restorative approach, encompassing the physical (body and environment), the soul (relationships) and spirit (freedom, autonomy, identity, and resilience).
Restorative practice strives to reinstate the mana of all those affected by the wrong: those harmed by the wrongdoing, those causing the harm and their whānau. Such practices are readily understood within a Māori worldview emphasising collective identity, responsibility and linking directly to the partnership agreement of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The impulse of “kanohi ki te kanohi”, or meeting face to face, means we acknowledge and hear the voice of one other and in so doing any whakama/embarrassment/discomfort is worked through, therefore the mana of both parties is restored.
Restorative Practice Guiding Principles
The following principles reflect the overarching values and concepts for implementing restorative practices in any school setting:
• acknowledging that relationships are central to building any community
• ensuring equity of voice amongst all members of the community
• valuing everyone to ensure everyone is heard
• setting high expectations while offering support, emphasizing working “with,” not doing “to” or “for”
• building systems that address misbehaviour and harm and resolve conflicts in a way that strengthens relationships and focuses on fixing harm done rather than only address rule breaking
• engaging in collaborative problem solving.
• enhancing responsibility and empowering change and growth in all members of the community.
The Restorative Conversation / Kōrero
Teachers, students, and whānau who engage in restorative work use an approach which models calm, respectful dialogue and makes use of established non blaming language such as:
• what happened?
• what were you thinking?
• who do you think is being harmed?
• how do you think they are harmed?
• what do you need to do to put it right?
• have things been put right?
The range of well-considered questions and the language used is tailored to best meet that person’s ‘age and stage’; for instance, a very young child would not be asked what they were thinking.
The extent of the restorative kōrero is also related to the context e.g., short conversation within context of the class lesson to full conferences, as appropriate, for entrenched behaviours and escalated circumstances.
At all stages of this process the integrity and trust of the parties involved is paramount.
In life mistakes are made and our education process strives to enable and empower students to develop the appropriate skills to resolve conflict and heighten their sense of humanity. Within the learning environments, restorative and inclusive practices are the foundation for teaching and learning; providing meaningful opportunities to develop self-discipline and positive behaviours.