Students first in the region to train in relational and restorative practice

Students are being trained in relational and restorative practice so that they can make a difference in young people’s lives.

Four people at University event

Lisa Wood, Tim Moss, Dr Ruth Hudson and Associate Professor Sarah Page at the launch of the partnership

“We are the first University in the region to champion this as part of our training with staff and students to benefit the region’s education, policing and health sectors."

Dr Ruth Hudson, Institute of Education

Staffordshire University has launched a new partnership with Staffordshire County Council which will see staff and students from a range of disciplines including education, policing, social work and health, trained to implement the revolutionary practice in their careers and workplaces.

Lisa Wood, who graduated from Staffordshire University with a BA (Hons) in Sociology, Criminology and Deviance in 2022, is Relational and Restorative Practice Coordinator at Staffordshire County Council. Her team works with schools and education providers to improve attendance and prevent suspensions and permanent exclusion from schools for children with a social worker.

She said: “We’re looking at how we are with people, how we build, develop and maintain relationships, how we repair them when they break down and how we restore and repair conflict.

“We would hope that staff within a school who were relational and restorative would really invest in time spent developing relationships with children so that when there’s a need for conflict resolution they’ve got a relationship to repair. It means for children there’s a feeling of connectedness and they’ve got a real investment in being part of their school community.

“Post Covid we’ve seen real problems trying to get lots of children back into school for a variety of different reasons. I think, in the main, children are struggling more and the focus on academic attainment can be really tricky for some children, especially when they’ve got other stuff going on and there are difficulties at home in their family life or personally.

“Having a level of understanding, developing a relationship with children so they understand that there are people there who are championing them means that they can start to focus on their education a little bit more and develop those skills of resilience.”

“For me it’s a real commitment from both sides that we’re going to continue to invest in this. We’ve got a real need to start developing communities again and I think education is the key.

Dr Ruth Hudson from Staffordshire University’s Institute of Education said: “We are the first University in the region to champion this as part of our training with staff and students to benefit the region’s education, policing and health sectors. We have trained education and police students, including Institute of Policing apprentices and will roll this out further to our health students.

“This is a revolutionary way of dealing with young people and children’s behaviour. In the past we may have dealt with these young people in a way that is encouraging them to feel guilt and shame about what they’ve done. This restores and repairs those relationships so they don’t feel that shame and guilt about their behaviour.

“It’s important we are all singing from the same song sheet because we need to be able to demonstrate in our practice as professionals, but also as students, that this is the way we’re going to deal with behaviour as organisations, so we are all delivering the same restorative practice.”

“We are training our students to be those practitioners that make the change and make a difference in young people’s lives so that when they get to the end of their schooling they’ve had a positive educational experience that prepares them for their adult life.”

Sarah Page, Associate Professor in Social Justice and Social Learning, added: “I am thrilled to see this partnership develop and, as a criminologist, I am pleased that restorative and relational practice will support reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour.

"We have also worked with Staffordshire County Council to develop trauma informed relational and restorative practice training resources for Staffordshire Police colleagues.”

Tim Moss, Assistant Director for Education Strategy at Styaffordshire County Council said: “Working together as a partnership is really exciting and working in a relational and restorative way is something we’re promoting across our Children’s workforce. There is still more to do, and working as a partnership, our message about the impact of this approach will be stronger and more powerful.”

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