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Restorative practices in schools: Far-reaching implications.

Drewery, Wendy
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Presentation to the VUW Institute of Policy Studies Symposium: Towards a Restorative Society, October 10-11 2005.

The use of certain practices derived from restorative justice has recently been
gaining popularity and inciting keen interest in the education community.
Practices that have so far been introduced have tended to centre on
conferencing and are focused on disciplinary purposes, although there is a
broadening range of other practices in schools that are being talked about under
the heading “restorativeâ€?. However the use of processes derived from legal
practice should not be simply transposed into the education context. This paper
offers some reflections on these developments, building on the experiences of a
group at the University of Waikato, which completed two projects on restorative
conferencing in schools for the Ministry of Education under the rubric of the
Suspension Reduction Initiative, and which continues to develop understanding
of the practices. Objectives of both projects were directly related to the (political)
desire to reduce numbers of suspensions and exclusions, particularly of MÄ?ori
children, from schools. In spite of a wide variety of continuing initiatives, the
overall numbers of stand-downs and suspensions have not substantially
diminished. Although there has been a slight decline for MÄ?ori, young MÄ?ori and
Pasifika students are still over-represented in these figures. Most suspensions
and stand-downs from schools are a result of “continual disobedienceâ€? or
physical assault on other students, and occur within the 13-15 year age group.
Taken together, these statistics cause me to wonder whether as a society we are
addressing youthful resistance appropriately by seeing it as a disciplinary matter
brought about by poor behaviour management skills on the part of teachers,
poverty or just plain bad upbringing. I will argue that the question of inclusion
and exclusion in society, not just in schooling, is raised by the development of
restorative practices, and will offer some suggestions about the kind of theory
that might help us to think more constructively about what constitutes community
when the members are very different from one another. Finally, I will suggest that
the introduction of restorative practices in schools offers a particular opportunity
to reconsider the role of education in our society. (author’s abstract).


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