Developing safer and positive school climate through restorative practices Erasmus Project

General information for the Developing safer and positive school climate through restorative practices Erasmus Project

Developing safer and positive school climate through restorative practices Erasmus Project
July 7, 2020 12:00 am

Project Title

Developing safer and positive school climate through restorative practices

Project Key Action

This project related with these key action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices

Project Action Type

This project related with this action type : Strategic Partnerships for school education

Project Call Year

This project’s Call Year is 2017

Project Topics

This project is related with these Project Topics: Early School Leaving / combating failure in education; Quality Improvement Institutions and/or methods (incl. school development)

Project Summary

Ligand is a pioneering organization in the field of Restorative Practices in Flanders. They have developed lots of expertise in intervening in schools, youth care, refugee centers, … in order to resolve conflicts and expose strategies that help people live, learn and work better together. They found a big need within the schools to find ways to implement Restorative Practices in a more sustainable way. Ligand made it their mission. Therefore they built an international alliance in which organizations could learn from each other and create a European theoretical and practical framework for implementing RP in schools. The RESTORE project was born.

Together with 7 partner organizations we wanted to create a generic model for implementation and test it in 6 different schools in 6 different countries – a sort of action research. The goal of this kind of thorough implementation model is to build schools where the culture, the tone, the atmosphere are warm and supportive. Students and teachers deserve to live and work in an environment in which they feel safe. This way they can be(come) the best version of themselves. Part of what we do with RP is offering schools effective tools in dealing with conflict on all levels of the school (students, class groups, team of teachers, parents, …).

First step in our journey was to build a common definition of a restorative school. We researched the support base for Restorative Practices in each of the countries (level of schools, groups of schools, legislation, …). Already it became clear that the level of embeddedness of RP varied a lot across the different national contexts. The economic and political background seemed to play an important role.

Next step was to research and define which elements (practices and theoretical concepts) we as a group defined as fundamental to our common implementation model (draft). And along with this we defined a time path on when we would start with what in each of our schools.

Meanwhile, each of the partner organizations (Le Souffle in the role of support for Mairie de Lille, France, and CRESM, Italy) started to look for a local school that was willing to go all the way. They would get a lot of support for the respective training organizations, but in return we asked them their full commitment. This ramp-up phase was important in getting the school ready for restore. Part of that process included some sort of benchmarking in the school, identifying the specific needs for each of the schools locally.

In year 2 the implementation journey kicked-off in each school. The approach varied, but the idea was always to inform all staff of the RP implementation process and the goals we wanted to reach with it. Also, we organized an international training event for the Restorative Leadership Team of all the schools (C2). This exchange was extremely interesting. It was also confrontational, because now we could all see how much the circumstances in which each of the partners is working differed.

All schools received on-site training and coaching from their local project partner. In Sicily (CRESM) and Lille (Mairie de Lille) there was a different set-up with the role of Le Souffle as go-between. Le Souffle supported both respective partners locally in sharing their expertise on Restorative Practices and supporting the implementation process in response to local needs and expectations.

Later in year 2 we met again together with volunteers of each school (most of them part of the Restorative Leadership Team) for a specialized training in Restorative Conferencing (C3).
This way each school was able to deal with the more complex conflicts in a restorative way. The coaching of the trained school staff by the project partner trainer was helpful and needed in order to develop the necessary further skills.

Year 3 intended to further support the schools in the development of a safer and saner environment for students and staff. Some schools experimented with the use of Professional Learning Groups as a tool to continue to inform staff on the use of RPs and give them the opportunity to exchange good practices. Although this is a very useful practice to further implement the restorative philosophy in a school, we did find not all schools were able to plan those in on an all-staff level.

The second half of the 3rd year was reserved for finalizing our output. We had to come to a neat end product and wanted as much input from the respective schools. We wanted to find out what strategies had proven useful and what practices made a difference in building that warm and safe school environment. By that time the corona crisis had kicked in in all countries, which made it really difficult to further exchange with the schools. Suddenly they had more urgent problems to deal with. It became hard to discuss outcomes, impact, results and realizations. Despite this new reality we did however manage to come to some important conclusions.

EU Grant (Eur)

Funding of the project from EU: 382991 Eur

Project Coordinator

Oranjehuis & Country: BE

Project Partners

  • International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Europe
  • Le Souffle asbl
  • stichting Eigen Kracht Centrale