Our Lady's High School is a Catholic comprehensive,
opened as a new school in 1968. It is associated with
six primary schools and serves the areas of Cumbernauld,
Muirhead, Cardowan, Condorrat, Moodiesburn and Castlecary
- a wide and diverse community. Our Lady's High School's
roll is 895 and it has a teaching complement of 66.
The school takes great pride in its examination results
but also feels it provides well for its pupils in other
ways. The school was inspected recently and its ethos
and high quality of relationships between staff and
pupils were commended. Visitors, too, comment on the
school's very positive atmosphere. The school was recently
awarded Charter Mark status for the second time.
The school's approach to inclusion has been recognised
by a recent visit from HMIe to look at good practice
within the Better Behaviour, Better Learning initiative.
The school has championed many other North Lanarkshire
and national initiatives and was the first secondary
school in North Lanarkshire to achieve Green Flag status
for whole school approaches to environmental issues
(see Picture A). It was recently presented with a bronze
award as a Health Promoting School.
Other whole school curricular and social activities
strive to develop in each child an enterprising approach
and this was recognised when Our Lady's reached the
national Finals of the Executive's Determined to Succeed
initiative in June 2004.
The school has been selected by North Lanarkshire Council
to take forward the Scottish Executive's pilot programme
on Restorative Practices.
Staff readily intervene in situations to help restore
a sense of fairness and equality for all children. For
example, when friendships break down or individual pupils
feel that they have not had the opportunity to have
their opinion heard, staff involved organise a circle
to allow all parties the opportunity to have their say
and to listen to how others in the circle feel. This
method of conflict resolution certainly encourages pupils
to engage in a formal process allowing all parties concerned
to move forward.
Restorative Practices are seen as formalising practices
already operating in Our Lady's High School. The approaches
link to other aspects of provision already well-established
in school, for example, pupils' views are taken into
account in planning and policy development via Pupil
Councils, and peer support and buddy systems are widely
used. The invitation to be a pilot school probably resulted
from our track record for implementing initiatives related
to building a positive climate, e.g. Discipline for
Learning, Staged Intervention, Reasoning and Reacting,
Co-operative Learning and Buddy System.
Other related initiatives
Discipline for Learning (DFL)
Our Lady's High School operates a system that supports
and encourages all pupils to be aware of their role
in the development of a positive ethos for learning
and development of the whole child. In our school's
case this is contextualised within our Catholic faith.
A DFL record
is established for every child from S1 to S6 that enables
staff to record positive praise but also allows them
to record loggings and punishments issued, with the
emphasis being on positive outcomes. It ensures that
every child feels valued and supported. The information
is easily accessed in a database and can be shared with
during interviews about their child's progress. The
whole initiative relies on parental support and negotiation.
Pupils are rewarded regularly with Praise cards and
certificates and those who achieve a high standard of
behaviour are rewarded with a trip to Alton Towers in
the Summer Term. Teaching staff feel further empowered
to support and assist all children within the classroom
environment by adopting the ground rules integral to
the DFL system.
A 'staged strategies' approach to any issues gives those
involved a structure of stages/levels of response through
which they may work as necessary. Our teaching staff
are supported in a non-threatening
way by a trained colleague who has the opportunity to
review classroom management and resolve, in a restorative
way, low level indiscipline. Following classroom observation,
suggested staged strategies -including seating arrangements,
room layout and teacher interactions with pupils - are
offered to teachers to help with problems encountered.
This initiative is also supported by North Lanarkshire's
Inclusion Support Base which helped establish the programme.
The school now operates a well embedded system.
Reasoning and Reacting
This Canadian cognitive skills programme teaches adolescents
a series of key cognitive and pro-social skills. The
programme is based on
the belief that antisocial and disruptive behaviour
is a result of under socialisation. Pupils are encouraged
through role play to:
for the positives, and
body language before any decision making.
delivery of this programme within our school aims to
enhance pupils' key values, attitudes and social reasoning
skills, thereby improving their social understanding
and the quality of their behaviour and learning across
North Lanarkshire aims to have every teacher trained
in Co-operative Learning approaches to classroom management.
Co-operative Learning encourages children to work together
to accomplish shared goals.
Our Lady's High School has already involved all members
of the Senior Management Team along with other members
of staff from a variety of departments. The goal is
to encourage self-motivated, confident young learners.
Introduced over the past five years, this method of
mentoring S1 pupils in their transition period is very
successful and rewarding, both for S1 pupils and S6
buddies. The programme has developed from simple mentoring
skills to advanced support and counselling both on a
one basis and also in a classroom capacity. Activities
include paired reading (see Picture B) and buddy support
for S1 pupils across the curriculum. Buddies also assist
at the Summer School for vulnerable children and on
adventure activities where they assume the role of group
Why restorative practices in our school?
Restorative Practices appeal to Our Lady's in part because
of existing practices. Historically, the SMT already
used a restorative approach when dealing with breaches
of school discipline. Where a formal exclusion is the
likely outcome to a discipline issue parents, pupils
and staff have the opportunity to discuss and review
the possible outcomes.
This prepares the ground for restorative resolution
post-exclusion. Pupil Support staff, too, already work
in restorative ways. For example, issues are discussed
with parents and pupils before decisions are taken about
supportive interventions. Pupil Support staff engage
readily in restorative conferencing - a planned and
sensitively managed meeting with all those pupils involved
- to resolve issues
such as bullying and broken relationships. This approach
aims to ensure that all children are heard, that their
input is valued in resolving the problem, that the process
is non-judgemental and that all parties feel satisfied.
Staff engaged in such practice have a raised awareness
and appreciation of the theory. The school aims to make
Restorative Practices a whole-school philosophy that
will be adopted as the norm in classrooms across the
school and by all staff -teaching and support. This
aim is consistent with the school's intention to treat
everyone as valued and respected members of our Catholic
community and links in well to the Charter for Catholic
Schools, some of the points of which are listed below:
commitment to the integrated education
and formation of the whole person, in
close partnership with parents as the
first educators of their children
inclusive ethos which aims to honour
the life, dignity and voice of each
person, made in the image of God
commitment to the search for wisdom
in life and to the pursuit of excellence,
through the development of each person's
unique God-given talents
commitment to communicate Catholic social
teaching and thereby to promote social
justice and opportunity for all
commitment to support the continuing
professional and spiritual development
from the Charter for Catholic Schools
are made aware of the school's commitment to the implementation
of Restorative Practices in all dealings and contacts.
They understand that staff use a conferencing approach
in many of their meetings. Parents are always invited
to participate in formal conferencing with regard to
resolving individual pupil issues and are kept fully
informed of meetings involving their child and staff
Three members of the Senior Management Team and one
Principal Teacher of Pupil Support have attended the
formal training in Restorative Practices provided by
North Lanarkshire. In addition, North Lanarkshire's
Principal Educational Psychologist provided training
for all staff during an in-service day in August 2004.
Responses from staff were exceedingly positive, not
least because they recognised the links to existing
good practice. This has been followed-up by on-going
twilight training programmes offering insights into
the philosophy and techniques involved, delivered by
our trained members of staff. The target group is all
interested teaching and support staff. The school appreciates
the support offered by the Authority's Inclusion Support
Base as a supplementary resource.
Lanarkshire Council will be providing additional in-service
training for those staff who received earlier training.
A visitor from the Institute of Restorative Practices
in the United States of America will offer further training
to a minimum of six members of staff from across the
school in May 2005, to further permeate this initiative.
He will also address a wider group of staff from the
Our Lady's High School Cluster. This is seen as another
exciting way forward in bridging the transition for
the young people from our associated primary schools.
It will give Cluster members a first-hand opportunity
to see how much Our Lady's High School has invested
in this development. It will also give them confidence
in the strategies adopted to allow children to mature
and develop to their full potential in our school community.
who have attended training have been refreshed by the
opportunity to take part in the training programme because
it has given a new perspective on conflict resolution.
Comments on the training include:
is an effective and more satisfying way to resolve
conflict. You do not need to be seen as a bulldog
in your dealings with pupils. The techniques of restorative
enquiry learned at the course can be used in the classroom
as well as to investigate incidents. I feel that the
final outcome is more satisfying for everyone as it
does not erode the self esteem of victims and perpetrators.
I have been able to use the skills acquired on the
course to help resolve and diffuse problems involving
pupils in school and/or within their community. I
have found that parents as well as pupils are committed
to adopting this new conference approach".