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Children's Commissioner highlights restorative approaches as best practice in preventing school exclusions

The Children’s Commissioner, Dr Maggie Atkinson, highlights restorative approaches as good practice in managing pupils with challenging behaviour in her inquiry into schools exclusions.

The report, “They never give up on you”, is the result of the first year of an ongoing inquiry into school exclusions by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. The report has also brought attention to the illegal use of exclusions by schools, that the current school system of exclusions is not compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the over-representation of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), from certain ethnic groups, boys and children from low income families.

On the prevention of, and alternatives to, exclusions the report finds that there is currently no guidance for schools on good practice in managing or commissioning provision for pupils with challenging behaviour and highlights five characteristics which sum up good practice including:

“The child’s underlying behavioural issues are dealt with, not simply “parked”. In the best cases, interventions include counselling provided by trained staff, and the use of formally implemented restorative approaches, both to confront students with the consequences of their behaviour, and to demonstrate what things could be like if matters improve.” (page 25)

The Commission heard from young people who had experienced restorative justice and it had helped them change their behaviour -

“I had to sit down with this kid I’d kicked in, and he told me how much it had hurt, and how he

didn’t know why I’d done it. It felt really weird, to be honest – when you lose it, you don’t think about this sort of thing.”

(Boy, Year 10, North of England)

Others told the inquiry that this approach had helped them modify their behaviour. One said: “I’ve completely changed from what I used to be. Completely. I’ve calmed down and sorted myself out. I go to school every day and try to work and do everything I can.”

(Boy, Year 9, South of England)

The Children’s Commissioner’s School Exclusions Inquiry will accept responses in writing until 28 May 2012 to shape further in-depth work in a small number of areas relating to school exclusions. A further report will be published in March 2013.


19th Mar 2012 | Schools

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