Restorative Approaches are an understanding that we work best when part of a community and that to do so we need an understanding of how a community works, self awareness of our responsibilities to that community and shared communications skills.
Restorative Justice is a process that resolves conflict. It is part of a larger ethos also known as Restorative Practices/Approaches. It promotes telling the truth, taking responsibility, acknowledging harm as appropriate response to conflict and in doing so creates accountability. It is a very valuable tool to a modern school as it not only allows the harmer to see the impact of their behaviour but also allows the “harmed” person the opportunity to see if they contributed to the conflict in anyway by their own behaviour. Both participants are then able agree their own joint contract of how they are going to treat each other in the future, this gives them a personal stake in the success of the contract. Conferencing works by trained neutral facilitators focusing attention on the harm that an incident has caused to others, by giving everyone the opportunity to answer the same questions and everyone is given the same opportunity to speak.
The controlled equality ensures the process is seen as fair. This encourages the truth and provides a safe environment so that responsibility can be acknowledged and genuine remorse felt. It is this feeling of remorse drawn out by the process that creates accountability. By looking at what harm has been caused it brings the participants together to develop a solution. This allows them to take ownership of their solution making it much more likely to succeed.