A new document published by Quakers in Britain (QB) Response to consultation on the draft education inspection framework from Ofsted has shone a light on Restorative work in schools.
The document highlight the need for an alternative response to behaviour than ‘zero tolerance’ policies which are common in secondary schools in the UK.
“By emphasising ‘behaviour’ Ofsted may encourage unhelpful zero-tolerance policies that frustrate children’s right to be heard. The framework should give more emphasis to that right, particularly in the context of responding to conflict.”
It also points to the publication Positive Peace in Schools (Hilary Cremin and Terence Bevington) which identifies three key approaches:
“peace-keeping, in which controls over or aggressive behaviour;
peace-making, which responds to conflict that arises with processes such as
mediation; and peace-building, which involves “longer term, more fundamental processes of redressing injustice, democratisation, and nurturing healthy social relationships.
Cremin and Bevington argue that all three are essential to create a culture of positive peace in schools, but the QB document raises some concern that Ofsted may be encouraging a focus on just one aspect:
“The framework as it stands provides some encouragement to utilise all three, but we nevertheless fear the emphasis on “behaviour” will lead to a disproportionate focus on peace-keeping.
Science also shows again and again that punishment does not change behaviour; it creates anger, resentment and deceit.
Both to uphold the right to be heard and to enable the visible behaviour and
attitudes Ofsted is articulating, restorative approaches (sometimes called
restorative practice) are needed.
Unlike a retributive, authoritarian approach, a restorative approach works with people in conflict to take responsibility for finding and enacting solutions. It is also distinct from a “permissive approach” in which harmful behaviour is indulged or accommodated.”
and highlights the work already done:
“Work worldwide and in UK has repeatedly shown the value of a restorative
approach to conflict and relationships in a school.
97% of primary and secondary schools in a DFE survey (with 283 responses) said restorative approaches reduce bullying. Studies also show that teachers who use restorative approaches have better relationships with learners”
We think the below recommendation is extremely useful. With exclusions on the rise and disproportionately affecting ethnic minority, poor and SEN children and young people, we need an alternative method for dealing with inevitable conflict in schools.
Restorative Practice is ALL about positive relationships, something Ofsted should be seeking to promote throughout the education system.
“Ofsted has attached value to positive relationships in school, so should note the positive impact of restorative approaches educators experience.
“As a headteacher, I have seen the difference that restorative practice made in my school, putting relationships at the very heart of everything we do.
The draft framework does not explicitly preclude restorative approaches, but neither does it provide particular encouragement. We feel that silence facilitates the existing bias toward authoritarian approaches noted above. It is constructive that the framework attaches value to relationships that “reflect a positive and respectful culture”, but this leaves ambiguous whether Ofsted would be satisfied with “negative peace” in which learners are visibly respectful but structurally silenced.
While Ofsted may choose not to endorse a specific discourse such as restorative approaches, we feel it must recognise the need for providers to address conflict constructively.”