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Restorative Discipline

Restorative discipline is an approach to discipline that prioritises repairing the harm caused by misbehaviour rather than implementing punishment or exclusion. More and more schools are waking up to the philosophy of restorative discipline as educators seek alternatives to traditional discipline models that do not address the root causes of their learners’ behaviour problems.

The core principles of restorative discipline include:

1. Focus on relationships

Restorative discipline prioritises building positive relationships between learners, educators, and staff. When relationships are strong and meaningful, learners are more likely to feel connected to their school community and less likely to engage in disruptive behaviours.

2. Responsibility and accountability

Restorative discipline emphasises that learners take responsibility for their behaviour and are held accountable for repairing the harm caused by their actions.

3. Restorative practices

These practices included things like mediation – where educators and counsellors create a safe space for learners to discuss issues that have arisen in the classroom. This builds empathy, understanding, and communication skills.

There are several benefits to using restorative discipline in schools. First and foremost, it can help reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions, which disproportionately impact learners with emotional challenges and broken family systems. Restorative discipline seeks to help learners develop empathy, communication skills, and a sense of responsibility for their actions. When learners feel connected to their school community, they are more likely to be engaged in their learning and less likely to engage in disruptive behaviours.

Implementing restorative discipline in a school requires a commitment from school leadership and staff. It also requires training and support for educators to learn how to use restorative practices effectively. This includes learning how to facilitate mediation sessions, how to ask open-ended questions, and how to listen actively.

While restorative discipline may not work for every learner in every situation, its approach is overall more effective than traditional punitive models.

By prioritising relationships, responsibility, and restorative practices, educators can create a school culture that is more inclusive, equitable, and supportive of all its learners.

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