The Committee is asked to note the report.
22.1 The Director of Education (DoE) presented the report in detail and proceeded to update the Committee as a result of a request at the March meeting. It was noted that restorative practice was in use in Gloucestershire schools across the County.
22.2 The report explained how it was used throughout schools and the Authority in terms of the family hubs, restorative justice, etc. The restorative practice model had been promoted nationally by Molly McCloud and shared good practice methods. The projects aimed to train and develop others on a rolling basis.
22.3 It was recognised there were challenges for children in the transition period between primary and secondary schools. It was noted that the primary sector had embraced restorative practice much so than the secondary sector. The DoE suggested that for secondary school it was perhaps a question of scale and suggested that perhaps a different engagement model might be required for secondary school given the cohort of pupils and staff. Members were advised that the funding was due to cease in 2024 and it was necessary to secure future funding to continue beyond that date.
22.4 In response to a question, it was noted the primary schools head teachers and their staff lead on the practice. If supported well by the head teacher then it was possible to bring about a whole system change, it was essential to gain traction to bring about a positive change.
22.5 In response to a question, the DoE explained in her experience as a secondary head teacher, restorative practice competed within many other initiatives and it would be necessary for head teachers to commit to approximately three days of whole staff training. It was noted there were often issues around head teachers ethos, philosophy and the choice of direction in terms of behavioural management policies. She felt it was important for the Authority to engage with schools as a whole in order to bring about a positive change and this would be a challenge given there were 106 academies. In addition, there was a new Schools Bill which would impose a new set of academy trust standards and there would a statutory duty to cooperate with the local authority.
22.6 The DCS explained that the team were doing good work in schools, which was well received and the impact was significant. He felt it was essential to look at the impact if the service wanted Children’s Services to support this programme going forward and the significant outcome. The DoE explained there were a large number of case studies available to support the programme and any future funding bids, it was important to articulate the outcomes. The DCS stated that he would like the programme to continue.
22.7 In response to a question, it was explained that it was not possible for the Local Authority to add clauses to new academy contracts to include restorative practice.
22.8 The Cabinet Member referred to the report and the fact that ‘to do restorative practice is fairly easy, but to be restorative is often hard and takes time’, he felt it was a mind-set for schools. He wondered if this concept was more readily embraced in faith schools, and asked if further work could be done to see if there was any direct correlation. The DoE explained that she didn’t have the evidence available to confirm that point.
22.9 The Chair felt there were strong parallels between restorative practice and the youth justice system. He hoped by preserving with restorative practice in schools there would be fewer clients for the youth offending team in future. The Chair thanked the DoE for her concise, accurate and well delivered presentation.