Research and Evaluation
An interesting new doctoral thesis entitled An examination of restorative justice conferences in a primary school using conversation analysis by Sadie Westrup (2015) can be accessed from Cardiff University following this link:
This study examines four restorative justice (RJ) conferences which took place during one term in an urban primary school. Although there is much research on the effectiveness of RJ, there is apparently no research to date which looks at the workings of RJ in terms of how it is co-constructed in situ by the participants. This study uses conversation analysis (CA) to document and inspect how the conferences work. Findings demonstrate the potential of CA to generate rich information about the mechanics of RJ conferences in schools and are used to suggest that this type of analysis on a larger scale could contribute to greater understanding of why such a highly verbalised intervention works, despite the likelihood that pupil-participants may be at an elevated risk of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). It is also suggested that teacher talk has great potential to support children’s communication skills during RJ conferences, by using and shaping talk to encourage pupil reflection on psychological states. As such it may be one of the few interventions to address SLCN and behaviour simultaneously
St Columba’s High School, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland 2007
Reduction in exclusions in Barnet schools using restorative approaches
A recently published report from the London Borough of Barnet highlights the positive impact of restorative approaches in Barnet primary schools. Over the past 6 years Transforming Conflict Director Dr Belinda Hopkins , has delivered restorative skills training to staff from over 16 schools as well as local authority staff and staff from PRU’s and residential homes. She has worked closely with Mari Martin, who was the Restorative Approaches in Schools Coordinator for Barnet Youth offending team.
The study focuses on the 16 primary schools and findings include:
- a reduction in exclusions in RA trained schools of 51% compared to a 65% increase in exclusions in the 32 Barnet schools that have received no RA training.
- increased confidence amongst staff in handling of bullying and conflicts
- improved sense of responsibility amongst young people for their behaviour
- calmer safer school environment
- more positive school ethos Read the full report :
Students focusing on crime and justice topics are invited to share information and resources on a new website www.crimestudents.org. The site is designed for undergraduates, postgraduates and school students. The site contains useful crime and justice resources, news articles and information about events. Members of the site can add information and are invited to discuss topical crime and justice issues, support their fellow students with queries and blog about what they’re currently studying. The site is also a central point to view opportunities for study at undergraduate, masters and postgraduate level on topics related to crime and justice. Those involved in teaching may want to bring the site to the attention to their students and refer students to the collection of crime and justice resources on the site. Teachers may also want to use the site as a teaching aid, perhaps asking students to discuss crime and justice topics on the site or maintain a blog for a period of time, thus encouraging reflective consideration outside tutorials. The site has been developed by the Scottish Centre for Crime andJustice Research and is supported by a group of student and teacher facilitators. If you have any comments or queries about the site please feel free to post these on the site or contact Claire Lightowler directly, firstname.lastname@example.org , 01786 467716.
The Transforming Conflict team is proud to have been involved in the Scottish Restorative Practices in Schools pilot project
The Transforming Conflict team is proud to have been involved in the Scottish Restorative Practices in Schools pilot project, training over a hundred senior managers in schools in North Lanarkshire and Fife . Read the evaluation of the project of which this training was a part: August 2007 Restorative Practices in Three Scottish Councils: Final Report of the Evaluation of the First Two Years of the Pilot Projects 2004-2006 In 2004 The Scottish Executive established a 30-month pilot project in Restorative Practices in three Local Authorities The pilot project was later extended until 2008. On 27th August the Scottish Executive launched the final report evaluating the 18 pilots. The report indicates that Restorative Practices, 'as they are developing in the pilot Local Authorities and schools, can offer a powerful and effective approach to promoting harmonious relationships in school and to the successful resolution of conflict and harm.'
Research on implementing a restorative approach
In 2006 Belinda Hopkins completed her doctoral thesis on the experiences of educationalists implementing a restorative approach in their schools. She began her research in 2000 when the field was very new and so the thesis is in some way a historical record of how the field grew from a few individual schools, to a partnership project involving a cluster of schools and then to the very first county-wide initiative.
The thesis also records the challenges teachers found using their skills in an environment that was quite resistant to the restorative approach, and what strategies are recommended for overcoming these challenges.
Since then Belinda has been conducting informal research on implementation. Elements of her thesis and the more recent findings are to be published in a book called Just Change as soon as she can finish it.
Belinda Hopkins’ doctoral thesis can be downloaded by filling in the short form below:
- a) A report about restorative practice in Letterkenny Vocational School by ex-headteacher Patrick O’Connor (Link Below)
- b) An interim evaluation on restorative practices. (Link Below)
- c) An executive summary of the pilot project in North-West Ireland (Link Below)
Read the evaluation of the Youth Justice Board-funded project Restorative Justice in Schools, in which 8 Youth Offending Teams took part. This is the first-ever published evaluation of such an initiative in the UK:
2011 Restorative Approaches in London Pupil Referral Units
Transforming Conflict is proud to have been the training provider for the restorative approaches Workstream of the Pan London Back on Track project. The evaluation and Executive Summary of this project can be downloaded below
2011 UK Education Department findings show that restorative approaches can offer some of the most effective ways forward for both preventing and addressing bullying in schools.
Researchers from Goldsmith College were commissioned to research the most widely used and effective strategies in schools for both preventing and addressing bullying behaviours. Their findings were published in the document:
F. Thompson and P.K. Smith (2011) The Use and Effectiveness of Anti-Bullying Strategies in Schools Research Report DFE-RR098 Goldsmiths, University of London
Look for references to Restorative Approaches here:
Developing a restorative ethos and culture pp. 21-22, Section 2.2.9 and restorative approaches, pp. 93-112, Section 4.3
And Recommendation 5.2.5