Source: (2008) Cambridge Journal of Education. 38(2): 199-216.This paper explores definitions and understandings of restorative practices in education. It offers a critique of current theoretical models of restorative justice originally derived from the criminal justice system and now becoming popular in educational settings. It questions the appropriateness of these concepts as they are being introduced to schools in parts of the UK and refers to a recent Scottish Executive funded pilot initiative to implement restorative practices in schools. The paper then reflects on some findings from the evaluation of this pilot project, outlines a new notion of restorative approaches and suggests that this broader conceptualisation may offer an important way in which to promote social justice in education and to reassess the importance and inevitability of conflicting social interaction and structures inherent in schools as complex social institutions. (Authors abstract).