A SCHEME in Gloucestershire aimed at ending conflicts between pupils and schools and reducing exclusions has received Government attention.
Education teams at Gloucestershire County Council were recently invited by the Government to give a presentation on the so-called Restorative Practice scheme.
Officers discussed the 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 conflicts – with one of the goals being to reduce the number of permanent exclusions.
Part of the presentation, which was delivered to the All-Party Parliamentary Group last Tuesday, December 13, focussed on a case study and the resulting changes in which four pupils faced permanent exclusion.
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.
Through this process, agencies were able to better understand the circumstances and needs of the pupils, which included evidence of significant Adverse Childhood Experiences.
This enabled the group to work with the pupils and enable all four to reintegrate back into education and go on to achieve GCSEs.
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 GCC to present their findings with a view to producing an investigation report on Restorative Practice.
Philip Robinson, GCC cabinet member for education, 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.”