Education teams present Restorative Practice vision to the Government

Education teams at Gloucestershire County Council were recently invited by the Government to present their vision for Restorative Practice and how it can drive improved inclusion across the local and national education system.

Officers from the council were invited to discuss their implementation of Restorative Practice in the county and the benefits it has provided to both pupils and schools.

Restorative Practice is the method of building relationships to resolve difficulties and repair harm when there has been conflict – with one of the goals being to reduce the number of permanent exclusions from schools.

Part of the presentation, which was delivered to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tuesday 13 December, focussed on a case study, and the resultant systemic changes, in which four pupils faced permanent exclusion from their school.

However, through the methods of Restorative Practice, a multi-agency approach was taken with the police, children’s services and school, working together along with other partners across the county.

Through this process the agencies were able to better understand the circumstances and needs of the pupils, which included evidence of significant Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This enabled the group to work with the pupils and enable all four to reintegrate back into education and go on to achieve GCSE qualifications.

In the 2016/17 academic year, when Restorative Practice was introduced in Gloucestershire, there were 141 permanent exclusions – the fourth highest in the country.

Research suggests that each permanent exclusion can go on to cost over £370,000 to society. These figures factor in the direct short-term cost, such as replacement education, and the long-term costs, such as unemployment, ill health or crime resulting from reduced life opportunities.

Restorative Practice in Gloucestershire is a multi-agency approach and has contributed to a reduction of almost 25% in permanent exclusions. In the 2021/22 academic year, there were 106 permanent exclusions in the county

The All-Party Parliamentary Group invited the council to present their findings to them with a view to producing an investigation report on Restorative Practice.

Cllr Philip Robinson, Cabinet member responsible for education at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “The benefits of Restorative Practice have been proven and I am delighted that the Government wants to learn from the experiences of our council.

“Permanent exclusions have been shown to reduce the future life opportunities of our young people, and one benefit of a Restorative Practice method is to reduce the number of exclusions in our schools.

“I am proud that the hard work of our education team has been recognised with the opportunity to share our knowledge of this method.”

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