Restorative Practice is about creating and nurturing meaningful and just relationships. Rooted in Indigenous traditions and thinking, Restorative Practice helps us recognise our inherent connections to one another and our communities. Good quality relationships between students, teachers, school leadership and other staff humanise the classroom and help create an effective learning environment. Restorative Practice is a way of being, thinking, interacting, teaching and learning – with relationships at the centre of all we do, every day.
With Restorative Practice no one is disposable in the school (or any) community. We recognise the inherent worth of individuals and the essential ties that bind each of us to each other: in the classroom, in the school, in society and in the broader world.
With Restorative Practice, we create safe, supportive spaces in our schools where we learn to bravely engage in and learn from crucial, honest, sometimes difficult, conversations. Restorative Practice builds capacity to live in, understand and embrace the real world with all its contradictions and complexities. And it builds capacity to work together to change aspects of the real world that are harmful and unjust.
Restorative Practice brings out our best selves. We build trusting, supportive classroom communities where we find effective ways to respectfully hold ourselves and one another accountable. It is also about accountability to the Indigenous roots of the approach, as a crucial reminder to ensure practices address all forms of social injustice.
Restorative Practice is about learning to listen deeply to one another and to truly see those around us. It is about sharing our own stories and perspectives and attempting to understand the perspectives of others. When we - adults and students - practice mutual respect through our communication, empathy and trust is built and enacted daily. This enables our classrooms to become robust learning communities where we can engage, risk and develop.
Restorative Practice ensures that classrooms are vibrant, dynamic, evolving learning communities built on meaningful relationships between students, teachers and adminstrators. We learn through relationship to value, understand, practice, and build crucial life skills - of working together, supporting and critically challenging one another, and fostering each other’s individual development and the well being of the community as a whole. Restorative pedagogy connects students with themselves and each other and, with that, to their curricula and the world.
Pedagogies that connect students to themselves, the curricula, each other and the world
Humanising practices that allow staff and students to bring their whole selves to school
Viewing discipline as an educative process in which students are supported to recognise their mistakes, be accountable for their actions and learn for next time
Moving away from a focus on finding the wrongdoer and meting out punishment to a focus on understanding who has been harmed, how they have been harmed and what they need to feel safe and whole
Involving the class in daily and weekly circle processes to deepen relationships
Developing skills and attitudes in students to be able to problem solve on their own and as a collective
Providing transparent processes for students to bring forward matters of concern
Developing procedures and practices for staff to build relationships between one another and to engage restoratively when conflict and harm arise
Opening up conversations of justice and equity, and seeing the school’s mission as a collective resistance to all forms of oppression
A restorative classroom is a microcosm of society where interactions are mediated through relationships.
In restorative classrooms students learn to critically question the going-ons in their classroom, the curricula and the realities of the wider world.
Restorative classrooms are robust learning environments that foster rigorous thinking, effort and flexibility. Students and adults sometimes have honest and difficult conversations about ways to be together.
In restorative classrooms we intentionally avoid traditional simplistic retributive discipline that muddles enforcement and punishment with being ‘tough’.
In restorative classrooms individuals are accountable and responsible to themselves and their classmates.
In restorative classrooms discipline is an educative process where students are supported to recognise their mistakes, be accountable and learn for the next time.
Restorative classrooms are spaces of active engagement and mutual support where we help each other grow personally, socially and academically.
Each restorative classroom is formed by its participants - its students and teachers - and the society the school and its participants are part of.
Australian First Peoples have been on this continent for around 70,000 years, leading in all aspects of life, including education.
Restorative Justice is rooted in indigenous traditions and thinking – on all the continents – in which our interconnections and obligations to one another are understood holistically.
The contemporary western expression of restorative justice originated in the 1970s, within judicial contexts, in North America.
Australian schools were the first in the world to utilise Restorative Practice. The first academic research of Restorative Practice in schools occurred in Queensland and was published in 1996.
Since these beginnings, Restorative Practice in schools has flourished both in Australia and abroad.
Watch this space for more information on the historic Australian origins of Restorative Practice in education and innovations from around the globe.
Are you involved in an Australian school (whether using Restorative Practice or not) as an educator or administrator?
Please consider contributing to this study - with this 5-minute survey - to provide as full a national picture as possible.
In the past 25 years, Restorative Practice in Australian schools has evolved and deepened. Context-specific, Restorative Practice looks different from region to region and from school to school.
As part of the research into the use of Restorative Practice in Australian education a number of schools are being profiled who are ‘doing’ Restorative Practice in unique, holistic and transformative ways; they are living their Restorative vision.
These profiles provide current examples of what schools are doing, how they are doing it and why. Click here to see the first school profile in this study. More profiles to come.