A police-funded project is set to tackle bullying, discrimination and prejudice in schools across the county using a restorative approach.
It’s International Restorative Awareness Week and the Signpost Hub and Anne Frank Trust UK are working on developing the innovative programme, which is funded by Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway.
Year five and six pupils were trained to become peer mediators to act as mediators to resolve conflict or disruptive behaviour within the school environment.
Staff members were also given information on how to implement restorative approaches in the school.
A restorative approach is a process focusing on repairing any harm caused. In schools it can be used to challenge the prejudice and discrimination found in hate incidents or bullying, before they escalate.
As facilitators the students will enable those harmed to communicate with the person who caused the harm.
Victim Care Co-ordinator Sunya Hussain said: “It is most effective when used as a whole school approach, where there is a shift in values to create positive outcomes from negative behaviour.
“The training was very well received by the school and their pupils. Using a restorative approach addresses the needs of both parties - the person who has been harmed and the person who caused the harm. If the harmer takes responsibility for their actions and acknowledges the impact this has had on the person who has been harmed, it leads to a change of behaviour and the opportunity to make amends.”
Kerry Ward, Director of Inclusion and SENDCo at The Linden Academy, added: “Pupils were also taught how to use a ‘talking stick’ and ‘circle time’ to develop positive relationships between themselves and improve communication and active listening skills.
"Role play was used as well as looking at the origins of restorative approaches in order to get the children thinking about how this approach can be used in their daily lives."
The Linden Academy pupils are now working with the Signpost Hub and Anne Frank Trust UK to create a toolkit to support the rollout of the project into primary schools.
The toolkit will include media clips to introduce RJ concepts and terminology from a pupil's perspective, an implementation pack for staff, information for parents/carers and a Peer Mediators' Journal to assist them in the important task of reflecting and growing in their role.
Find out more about restorative justice by visiting www.signpostforbedfordshire.com/restorative-justice-bedfordshire