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Restorative Practice at Emberton School

Restorative Practice is a method we use in school to create a feeling of belonging and community. It is also an important part of our behaviour strategy.  It helps the children and adults within the school form stronger relationships and feel listened to which in turn makes for a caring atmosphere whereby they look out for and help one another. We want to build quality, respectful and fair relationships.

The principle behind the creation of community is that “Our words and actions affect others”.  If you feel part of a community you are less likely to want to hurt or upset those to whom you feel connected and will find it easier to repair relationships that have broken down due to an incident or issue.

We have worked with and been trained by the Restorative Foundation to introduce and develop our ‘Community Circles’ and use of ‘Effective Language’.


Community Circles 
Circles are to create a feeling of community and belonging.
Circles have rules and are inclusive for everyone to speak.  There is a talking toy that is held by the person whose turn it is to speak.  They give everyone a voice.


Circle times
To help children to feel part of the school community we introduce them to circles when they first start school.  They take place first thing in the morning and are often used at the end of the day too.  We call them “check in” and “check out“ times and this is for them to check into and out of the class community.  It is a lovely way for the children to share their thoughts and ideas and for us to get to know a little bit more about each other. 

Below are some examples of different check in questions:
“What is your favourite fruit?”
“Tell me a time when someone has helped you.”
“What are you looking forward to doing at the weekend?”


When we asked children what they thought about circle time this is what they said:
Year 2 pupil: “I like ‘Check In’ because it warms my brain up for learning”
Year 1 pupil: “It’s really fun and we get to answer fun questions”
Year 1 pupil: “I like finding out how everybody is feeling”
Foundation pupil: “I get my own idea and I think about other people’s ideas”

What happens when problems occur, in the playground or during group sessions?
Being part of a community can be challenging at times, to make the right choices and treat each other fairly and respectfully.  There are occasions when actions or reactions or our behaviour affects others in a negative way.

The Restorative framework of how to react to such situations when they arise is based upon helping children know the effect they have had upon another person and thinking of ways to sort out or find a way of repairing the harm they may have caused. 

How does Restorative Practice help to promote good behaviour?
The Restorative Practice strategy isn’t a quick way of teaching children to think of others and behave thoughtfully to others; it is a longer term way of enabling children to learn the importance of looking after relationships and learning that our words and actions affect others.
When issues arise the main focus for the adult involved in helping the children resolve the problem is that all those involved have their say and are actively involved in the process of sorting it out.  Certain key questions are used in the process.  We begin by asking “What happened?” and we avoid asking “Why?”  This is because it is more important to find out what led up to the problem and how best to put it right in an open way.

Restorative Questions with effective language used:


  • What happened?
  • What happened before that?
  • What were you thinking about at the time?
  • Who has been hurt /upset by what has happened?
  • What do you need to do to help sort it out?
  • What do you think needs to happen now to sort things out?


These questions help each involved to have their say and understand how everyone involved feels and has been affected.  It helps children to begin to accept responsibility for their actions and begin to work together to repair any relationships that have been harmed.  This is to make it less likely that further occurrences will take place.
If a child’s incorrect choices compromise the safety of another child or adult the consequences are outlined in our behaviour policy.  But the restorative principles will also be applied so the children have the opportunity to take responsibility and the chance to repair harm caused.