William Colenso’s identity as a restorative school is embedded in both practice and policy. We believe that harmonious working relationships are integral to creating a positive social and learning environment. These restorative practices are applied to a wide variety of events that happen here at school, from on-going classroom disruption to incidents of serious physical, social and emotional harm. Reflecting on, repairing and reconnecting relationships is at the heart of this method. It impacts on community building and reinforces ideals of accountability, shared responsibility and a sense of ‘fairness’.
The change to a more restorative culture has prompted different kinds of conversations between students and teachers. Interactions are based less on blame, more on inquiry, seeking understanding and insight. This enables more effective and creative solutions to become possible. Restorative ways are more holistic and humanistic and seek inclusion rather than exclusion. This helps to internalise change and strengthen the connectedness within the school community.
As Daniel Murfitt the principal said, ‘You can’t have a punitive approach with a relationship based pedagogy.’
The Board of Trustees fully supported the implementation of restorative practice through resourcing and inclusion in the strategic plan.
Virginia Engels, the Maropea Dean said, ‘We have aligned our language to the Effective Teaching Profile and Restorative Practices. We are no longer seen as the wielders of discipline. Students seek us out as our conversations are truly restorative.’