When comparing staff and teacher survey responses between restorative schools and non-program schools, adults reported:
- Overall improvements in student behaviors, and
- Decreases in the number of staff who felt suspensions were the best way to deal with behavioral problems.
In addition, 89% of students who participated in the restorative process reported a high level of satisfaction, and 93% felt the program was fair and ‘just’. After three months, a follow-up study found that only 4% of the resolution agreements had been broken or remained incomplete. Further information about the National Evaluation of the Restorative Justice in Schools Program can be found here.
In Scotland, a similar study reviewed 18 pilot schools two years after the initial implementation of restorative action programming (McCluckley, 2008). After surveying 627 staff members and 1,163 elementary and secondary students, conducting interviews and focus groups, observing staff, students, and parents, and conducting an analysis of school and government policy, the findings were substantial. All but one of the elementary schools, and the majority of the secondary schools, reported significant changes in their schools. The study reported improvements in morale among staff, and more positive views by students about their overall school experience. Additionally, attendance rates among students increased, while expulsions decreased. Many schools reported a reduction in playground incidents, referrals for discipline, and suspensions. For more detailed information, read the journal article.
In both studies, schools noted that, although positive outcomes resulted from shifting toward a restorative action-based approach; the process of implementing this new approach required a significant commitment of time. It was also noted that larger gains were anticipated with continued commitment to the restorative action process.
In Canada, Nova Scotia appears to be making substantial strides in this area through government, community, and university partnerships. In fact, these partnerships and commitments have led to successes similar to those reported in England, Wales, and Scotland. A cultural shift is being enjoyed in which a “more positive and collegial environment among staff [is occurring], resulting in fewer staff absentee days, a higher level of student involvement in school life, and dramatic reductions in discipline referrals” (p.1). To read more about these developments, click on a 2011 bulletin or visit the Safer Saner Schools website.