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Schools' coping plan for conflict

PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 May 2015

Louise Sell and her son Charley who have taken part in the Restorative Approach for Families course. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Louise Sell and her son Charley who have taken part in the Restorative Approach for Families course. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

Tense shouting and stressful arguments have been replaced with calm and positive ways of dealing with conflict thanks to two Bowthorpe schools' drive to help parents at home.

Alan and Vicky Boone and their daughter Aliyah who have taken part in the Restorative Approach for Families course. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Alan and Vicky Boone and their daughter Aliyah who have taken part in the Restorative Approach for Families course. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The success of using a restorative approach in the classrooms at St Michael’s VA Junior School and Clover Hill VA Infant and Nursery School, led to the schools offering parents the chance to learn this approach, and it has proved a success in helping families to manage conflict.

Helen Newell, headteacher of the two schools, said children had become more reflective and look to find their own solutions to conflict, such as booking time with a pupil peer mediator to discuss playground arguments.

Restorative approaches work by building, maintaining and repairing relationships when harm has been caused, equipping people with problem solving skills.

Norfolk County Council’s chairman Brian Hannah presented certificates to parents who have completed the Restorative Approach for Families (RAF) and told them yesterday: “I really want to see what you are doing progress to other schools in Norfolk.”

How the course has helped parents

“What happened?” has become a well-used phrase in the Sell household in Chapel Break since mum Louise took the restorative course.

The 33-year-old said it had helped her to deal with arguments between her sons Charley, nine, and James, six, and her daughter Holly, four.

She said: “We’re a busy household with lots of spats and lots of behaviour to cope with.

“In our house we were very quick to shout, blame and use punishment but now we communicate much better with each other.

“We say ‘what happened?’ and take it from there and talk about the behaviour rather than getting angry with each other.”

The approach has also worked for Vicky and Alan Boone, of Three Score, who have five children. Mrs Boone, now a passionate advocate of the method, said she had used ‘circle time’, where every family member is given a chance to speak about their feelings, to help a friend who was struggling. She said: “It helps me to listen to the children and not just wade straight in.

“I now spend a lot of time trying to spread the message.”

Sandy Griffiths, pastoral team leader at the schools, said: “Our pupils already know how our schools deal with conflict and by extending it in the home gives mums, dads and carers different tools and strategies which they wouldn’t have perhaps thought of before.

“What is so satisfying is the parents who have completed the course are now reaching out into their communities as they are going to other families to talk about what they have learnt.

“By using restorative approaches in the home helps to build communication and gives everyone a voice which can only be seen as a good thing.”

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