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Statement of Restorative Justice Principles in Schools

Lyndsey Sharp,a researcher with the Restorative Justice Consortium in London provides an overview of the development of the Consortium's Statement of Restorative Justice Principles as Applied in the School Setting.

In 2002 the Restorative Justice Consortium (RJC), based in London, UK, published their Statement of Restorative Justice Principles. These Principles ( http://www.restorativejustice.org.uk/resources/standards.htm) revised the well-recognised Standards for restorative justice and were intended as a basis for a series of standards in a variety of settings. In 2003 the RJC was funded to embark on a two-year project to complete this series looking at four main areas of practice, one being schools. 

The School Principles aim to provide a resource that can assist staff to apply restorative principles to everyday situations as well as more serious forms of conflict. Organized into seven sections based on the parties involved, the Principles relate to those sustaining the harm or loss, those causing it, the community, the school, the judicial system, and restorative agencies, and one section addresses common interests of all the participants.  Under each of these sections, the Statement hopes to show the broad range of restorative approaches available, but above all to convey the message of the ethos underlined by restorative values. 

The research began in January 2003 and over a period of six months a number of projects in the UK were visited. These included projects in Thames Valley, Nottinghamshire, and Hammersmith and Lambeth (London). Practice outside the UK was also surveyed. Research on restorative practices in schools has been carried out in a number of locations, including North America, with Ron Claassen’s ‘Discipline that Restores’ (DTR) and Ted Wachtel’s SaferSanerSchools in Pennsylvania; and Australia, with Valerie Braithwaite’s responsible citizenship programme and Brenda Morrison’s work on a restorative approach to bullying and re-victimisation. Although general principles for restorative practices already exist (both in the UK and further afield) there are none specifically focused on the school setting – making these principles the first of their kind. Belinda Hopkins, the director of Transforming Conflict (http://www.transformingconflict.org) and one of the most experienced school restorative trainers in the UK, contributed to this work. 

In addition to the principles, the document includes a section titled ‘How restorative is your school?’ This section consists of a series of continuums based on Dan Van Ness’s assessment models, including the Meeting, Amends, (Re)Integration and School Involvement continuums.  It aims to help schools gauge the extent to which their school is ‘fully’ restorative.  After evaluating a program or discipline case in each of the four areas, the Combined Continuums Table charts whether the school is ‘fully’, ‘moderately’, or ‘minimally’ restorative. 

For more information or a copy of the ‘Statement of Restorative Justice Principles as applied in a school setting’, please contact the Restorative Justice Consortium at +44 (0)20 7960 4633 or send an email to: info@restorativejustice.org.uk.  Alternatively, copies can be downloaded from the RJC website at  http://www.restorativejustice.org.uk/resources/pdf/schoolprinciples.pdf.



March 2004

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