Restorative approaches to school discipline
This chapter explores the strengths and weaknesses of restorative approaches to school discipline. Initially, the origins of restorative approaches in education are documented. The key features of such practices are thereafter analysed. Here it is noted that they have the signifi cant merit of focussing on repairing relationships after a confl ict has occurred rather than punishing pupils for being involved in confl ict. It is argued that though restorative approaches do offer a framework for improved communication between persons in school when confl ict has arisen, they cannot, by their very defi nition, satisfactorily account for how discipline in schools might become less punitive and more educational beyond situations of confl ict. Restorative approaches to discipline have also too often been situated within wider discourses of classroom management. Such associations may limit the extent to which they can challenge existing power dynamics and structures in schools and wider society. After these reservations have been set out, the chapter culminates in the presentation of a case study from a school in England where the culture of discipline does seem to have benefi tted from staff and pupils embracing ‘restorative’ principles. Staff in this school felt that a focus on relationships and getting to know pupils as persons is the most effective long-term way of establishing educational discipline in schools. It is concluded that if discipline in education is to become signifi cantly less rules, rewards and sanction focussed, then educators will need to refl ect not only upon how to restore relationships when they have broken down, but also upon how to foster open, respectful, caring and communicative relationships in the fi rst place.