What We Do

RESTORATIVE SCHOOLS

About

We use restorative practices to stop the school-to-prison pipeline and make schools safer places for learning and development.

When young people get in trouble at school, traditional forms of discipline do not aim to repair harm or address the circumstances that led to the conflict. Numerous studies show that suspensions and expulsions do not alter bad behaviour; in fact, they can feed it by alienating students from the school community. Educators and administrators are increasingly interested in using restorative practices that build on values such as empathy, responsibility and community. Schools that utilize restorative practices have seen significant results, including lowered suspension rates, higher graduation rates, and an overall improved school atmosphere.

Since 2004, Peacebuilders has worked in dozens of schools, training educators and students to use restorative practices and Peacebuilding Circles to manage conflict and repair harm. We continue to advocate for the use of restorative practices throughout our education system to stop the school-to-prison pipeline and make schools safer for learning and development.

Our Approach

Peacebuilders Restorative Schools program is not just about incident-based responses and interventions. We know that the best way to make schools safer places for learning and development—to integrate students into the school community, instead of pushing them out with exclusionary policies—is by embedding restorative values within the school culture. We do this by engaging with stakeholders at all levels, including the board, administrators, educators, school staff, students, their families, and community members to create safe and supportive learning environments.

 

We provide direct programming
to prevent conflict from arising, intervene when a conflict has arisen, and reintegrate students into the school community after a conflict has been resolved.

 

We train students, teachers, administrators and staff
to use restorative practices to manage conflict and create safe and supportive learning environments.

 

We advocate for systemic change
by working with stakeholders at all levels to address ineffective and inequitable school disciplinary policies.

 

We change the way people think
about school-based conflict and adolescent misbehaviour.

Early Diversion Pilot Project

A three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Fund is allowing Peacebuilders to deepen our school engagement. We’ve partnered with the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Police Service, and Justice for Children and Youth to develop, implement, and evaluate a pre-charge diversion program for Toronto high-schools.

The project is being piloted at Central Technical Institute and Eastdale Collegiate Institute from September 2017 to April 2019. Our goal is to build a model for a lasting program that embeds restorative practices in high-schools and reduce harsh disciplinary policies that lead young people to the justice system.

How It Works

STEP 1

  • A teacher, administrator, parent, or student makes a referral to Peacebuilders.
  • A referral form must be completed and students must consent to participate in the program. 
  • Participation is voluntary. 

STEP 2

  • The student(s) meet with the Restorative Schools Coordinator and a teacher to begin programming. 
  • Peacebuilding Circles are used to work through the conflict in a safe and supportive environment. 

STEP 3

  • All participants develop a common resolution, which is presented to the referral source.

STEP 4

  • The Restorative Schools Coordinator follows up with the participants and the referral source to determine whether the resolution is working and if further programming is needed. 

Youth Advisory

The Restorative Schools Youth Advisory ensures that student voices inform every aspect of the program. Students from Peacebuilders’ Restorative Schools sites meet regularly to discuss the program, as well as issues at each school and in their communities. In addition to being regular participants at monthly Steering Committee meetings, the youth advisory participates in many community activities and discussions.

Many of the students joined the Youth Advisory after participating in Peacebuilders’ school-based programs. As a member the Youth Advisory at Central Tech explained: “It’s important to hear from kids because we’re the ones that get in trouble. We know what’s going on at the school.”

 

For further program information, referrals and intake, please contact:

Erica Lalonde, Restorative Schools  Manager
647-649-3777 | elalonde@peacebuilders.ca

“If I have a problem with a teacher, Peacebuilders can help me resolve the problem by setting up a circle with the teacher. We’ll all be in the same room together to speak about what happened.”

– Grade 10 student, Eastdale Collegiate Institute

“Peacebuilders brings us together. It helped me understand what I might have done wrong or could have done different. It helped me see both sides of things.”

– Grade 9 student, Central Technical School

“The Peacebuilders program is really supportive and what I really appreciate is that it was restorative. It helps both the students and the teacher move forward and reorganize the boundaries. Peacebuilders provides support when other options aren’t available.”

– Teacher, Central Technical School

Thank you to our partners and supporters