Case Study: Restorative Justice in Schools

 

Since 2009, we have been working with Restorative Justice as a concept and exploring ways that its ideals and aims can be implemented through creativity.

This process began in partnership with Curious Minds, the North West bridge organisation for arts and education.  Back in 2009, Curious Minds were administering the Creative Partnerships programme and, through this, Altru’s director Kate began working with St Aidan’s Primary in Billinge – a 3 year ‘change’ school who were committed to changing the behaviour management across the school community as a whole.

Our programme with St Aidan’s took around 6 months to complete and was developed in consultation with the senior management, pupils and all school staff from teachers to lunchtime supervisors.  The class that Kate worked with – who individually and collectively had a range of issues – were year 6, about to move on to high school and very much at the centre of problems around school.  They were a brilliant group of children and worked so hard through drama and creativity to make positive changes to their behaviour and attitudes.

A key aspect of the project, which looked broadly at actions, choices and consequences, was the development of a Justice Circle.  Through a series of creative activities the class created a character -‘Phil’ – who was getting into the same sort of trouble as some of the children in the group.  Across weeks and months, Phil’s character took shape and the work culminated with the class in role, putting Phil to a Justice Circle for a crime he’d been involved in committing.  The project enabled the young people to take ownership of their learning, develop key life skills and begin to understand that their actions and choices had consequences much further reaching than just themselves.

The project was a huge success across school and had a wide reaching impact, both on the individual children and on the redevelopment of the school’s behaviour policy which, to this day, includes justice circles as a means of open communication about issues and problems as they arise.

“Kate (from Altru) was an inspiration to our whole school community – our Restorative Justice project transformed our school and through our work with her it has become embedded in the everyday life of St Aidan’s.  We regularly showcase aspects of our project to other practitioners. We recommend Kate and Altru to anyone who will listen and we look forward to working with them again soon.” Ann-Marie Moore (Then Acting Head Teacher) St Aidan’s Primary School
“Thanks for helping me and helping our class a real class again.  I hope I see you again.” Jake, Year 6.

Since this important piece of work, we have delivered a range of projects that utilise Restorative Justice methods in schools across the North West and have developed a CPD training programme for teachers wishing to gain an insight into our Restorative Justice model.

We worked with Curious Minds and St Aidan’s again in 2010 to create a short film which illustrates our approach to RJ and the impact we believe it can have.  This can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/channels/curiousschools/32568425