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Restorative Practice in Gloucestershire

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We believe relationships matter.

What is Restorative Practice?

Restorative Practice is a way to be, not a process to follow or a thing to do at certain times. It’s a term used to describe principles, behaviours and approaches which build and maintain healthy relationships and a sense of community and can resolve difficulties and repair harm where there has been conflict. It is a way of being with people, essentially to work with and alongside others to create sustainable change.

What are the benefits of Restorative Approaches in Schools?

Implementation of Restorative Approaches has been proven to have benefits at multiple levels in schools. On a practical level, Restorative Approaches provide a structured and consistent response to the inevitable incidents of conflict that arise in the life of a school. The benefits of improved conflict resolution in schools lead to reduced disruption of teaching and learning, improved relationships and a calmer school environment.

How Does Restorative Practice Work In Reality?

In addition to the conflict resolution benefits, Restorative Approaches have been shown to develop people’s social and emotional competencies, such as increased empathy, improved self-discipline and more responsible decision-making. These benefits contribute to pupils’ personal, social and moral development.


Circle for Change

Circles can be used for many reasons, from informal group discussions to more formal group conferences. The idea of facilitating a circle isn’t new and may be familiar to many, but the main function of a Restorative Circle is to feel connection and belonging.

For further information about circles including examples of circle types and questions see

During times of social distancing, we found it necessary to make adaptations to some games, whilst still recognising the importance of making and maintaining connections.

The pandemic and lockdowns have had wide reaching impact in all our lives. How it has affected us will vary with our circumstances but one thing we share is that our interaction with others and our every day relationships have changed. As human beings we are hardwired for connection and our relationship and our way of being with others give us purpose, joy and support.

With so many of us remote working, our working relationships have also altered significantly. A lot of our contact is now by video link or phone - and we’re missing out on those casual encounters in the office or at school, where we built connections and look out for one another. Some of us may be grappling with new software and a whole new way of teaching. When do we make time to stop and reflect on what’s been happening and how best we can support each other?

See below for links to sessions you can run either virtually or in person with members of your team to support staff wellbeing:


Restorative Practice Enquiry

Restorative Approaches in Schools

Restorative language helps shift the focus away from blame and shame and focuses on the causes, needs and repair.

Younger children and children with additional needs might find it challenging to respond to Restorative Enquiry, these are adaptations with that in mind.


Principles of Restorative Practice

'Relationships Matter' and 'Be Kind'

We are hardwired for connection but relationships take time & effort.
This video looks at tools to help; including 'Be Kind'.

'Difference is an asset' and 'Be more curious than judgmental'

We are hardwired for connection but relationships take time & effort.
This video looks at tools to help; including 'Difference is an asset'.

Reflect, Respekt, Restore

Restorative Practice is a way to be, not a process to follow or a thing to do at certain times. It’s a term used to describe principles, behaviours and approaches which build and maintain healthy relationships and a sense of community and can resolve difficulties and repair harm where there has been conflict. It is a way of being with people, essentially to work with and alongside others to create sustainable change.

Success stories

What was the situation/circumstance/concern?

Jason and Micheal had ongoing spats in the corridors and around the school. There never seemed to be a reason, they just couldn’t walk past each other without saying something. Jason had ASD and Micheal also had a high level of needs at one stage which may have contributed. Each time they saw each other seemed to trigger a negative exchange, sometimes physically.

What restorative approach did you use and how?

In a controlled environment, it was decided the boys would come together. Lego was brought in which was something Micheal loved and could engage with. Jason could also enjoy having a toy there. Both boys were spoken with by the teacher and when they saw the Lego was in the room a natural interaction began. Jason told Micheal about the Lego and encouraged him to make something.

What was the impact?

The two boys became Lego Buddies and haven’t had a fall out since.

What was the situation/circumstance/concern?

Two year six pupils, Andrew and Tom fell out after they had been playing football together during their lunchtime. Tom felt he had been unfairly tackled in the game by Andrew and was close to tears. The teacher took them to one side and found a room to speak with them in and checked that no one had been physically hurt. He then spoke with Marie - one of their Restorative Practice Stars - to see if she wanted to help restore the situation between them. Marie is part of an initiative where the children themselves have attended training in Restorative Practice and go on to volunteer as a facilitator in their school. Marie established if anyone else needed to be involved and proceeded to speak with the two boys, referring only to a small aide-memoire; a small laminated crib sheet.

What restorative approach did you use and how?

The boys were encouraged to talk honestly, listen and not talk over one another and also come up with their own answer as to what should happen next. At first, there was some denial about what was intended and then Andrew admitted he had been getting cross because he felt he was losing in the game. Marie encouraged them to acknowledge what went on and to shake hands. They also agreed to ‘no more sliding tackles’ in case someone hurt their ankle. The teacher joined them for a debrief afterwards.

What was the impact?

After they shook hands they agreed not to play together for a while. In this school, the children participate in choosing their own sanction. In some cases, they choose detention but in this instance, it wasn’t felt necessary. After a short break, they have played together without any major upsets.

What was the situation/circumstance/concern?

A group of parents in a primary school felt unhappy about some things that had happened in a particular class and how the class teacher and the school had dealt with it. Many conversations were had in the playground and on social media, leading to a lot of confusion about what had happened and who had said or done what. The parents did not think the school were being open and honest with them and were concerned that their children were not receiving the education or care they were entitled to. There was a lot of tension and upset.

What restorative approach did you use and how?

The headteacher invited the parents to attend a restorative circle facilitated by outside RP practitioners from the RP team in GCC. 10 parents attended the 90-minute circle where they had a chance to talk about what had happened, how they were feeling, what the concerns were for their children, what they needed from the school and what they themselves wanted to do. No members of the school staff were present during the circle. Some strong feelings came out during the circle, with parents expressing concern for their child and the stress the situation was putting on the children and parents. During the circle, parents were able to clarify some issues between themselves around things that had been said.
The facilitators met separately with the headteacher and class teacher to find out about the situation from the point of view of the school. The situation was putting a lot of pressure on the class teacher and the working relationship with some of the parents; it was also taking a lot of time for the headteacher.

What was the impact?

After the circle, parents expressed that it felt good to be heard and be able to talk; it was also seen as positive to be able to hear from other parents in a safe and respectful environment. A meeting between parents and the school were discussed and parents were going to think about what they felt needed to be raised in a future meeting.

The headteacher was already in the process of making a number of changes in school based on the needs of pupils and feedback from parents. These were implemented and shared with parents.

What has been the outcome for the parties involved?

The parents of the class were again invited to a circle meeting, this time with representatives from the school, to discuss concerns and find a way forward. No parent felt the need to attend a subsequent meeting. One parent expressed to the headteacher that in their opinion it had all ‘been a bit of a storm in a teacup’.

Being listened to in a restorative manner and the school responding to their feedback were found to have resolved the issue in such a way that further restorative meetings were not needed.
The headteacher felt that the issues had been resolved through the actions taken and school life was able to continue moving forward.

What was the situation/circumstance/concern?

Some of the Year 6 pupils were having daily having arguments over playing football. The pupils were very passionate about the football matches and this tended to lead to all sorts of arguments and fallouts, impacting on the rest of the class - including their teacher. It would also cut into lesson time.

What restorative approach did you use and how?

The teacher introduced daily circle time, 'checking in' with the class each morning and after lunch. The teacher used her RP training to form a problem-solving circle and the children came up with their own solutions of wearing coloured bibs to help with team creation and pulling names out of a pot to select who was on each team. The children decided that this was fair and no one found fault with it. It was an example of fair process being used in the classroom and led by the pupils themselves

What was the impact?

Following on, the situation massively improved. Learning time was regained and the teacher could focus on teaching. The children felt part of the process and were more eager to follow the agreed rules, leading to fewer arguments.

The children were happier, the teacher was happier and they built confidence in the restorative process which could be applied in other areas.

What was the situation/circumstance/concern?

Two year 4 pupils, Jason and Aaron, were messing around when it was tidy-up time. It was about a glue stick and it resulted in Jason being scratched quite badly across the cheek - having run into a pencil that Aaron had flicked out.

What restorative approach did you use and how?

Through restorative conversation, it was clear to both boys that they were both at fault because they had been messing about. They recognised that they had broken the school rules including the trust between them. They decided together to make amends by making better use of their time. They chose to sharpen the pencils for everyone in the class during lunchtime. It took them less than ten minutes so they suggested that this wasn’t long enough and they offered to do the same with the coloured range for the class.

A RP conversation took place with the teacher at the end of lunchtime to rebuild trust with the teacher and she was happy with their choice of sanction and asked them to explain to the class why they had chosen to do something for everyone. It was their way of saying sorry, they said.

What was the impact?

This would have usually resulted in two yellow cards, sitting in a corridor during lunchtime with staff looking on as they walked past. This way there was no need for a letter to be sent home. A call was made to the mother of the son however by way of explanation.

There was also no repetition of the incident thereafter.

What do our schools say?

“I really enjoyed the games and interaction.
It was fun and interesting and the three ladies were an example of a good team.”

“Thank you for the informative and engaging energy each of you brought.”

“The comparison to attitudes to learning mistakes and behaviour mistakes made me think.”

“Thank you for sharing the importance of developing / investing in relationships
– to reduce the need to restore later.”

“I learnt lots of new things and I felt that it made me explore deeper into different ways of thinking, methods and practices and the reasons behind the theories.”

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