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Trafalgar School – A Restorative Flagship!

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Trafalgar School – A Restorative Flagship!

Pictured left to right Sarah & Kay from PMS with Charlotte who helped facillaite the visit and some of the amazing restorative practice ambassadors.

Portsmouth Mediation Service (PMS) is often trying to assist with local neighbourhood anti-social problems, sometimes these situations involve our children and young people and quickly lead to calls from those affected for someone to immediately do something about it – we all want a quick fix when the problems are on our doorstep, and Its often the local police who end up taking the brunt of the criticism from citizens who are affected by anti-social behaviour (ASB) as they demand some form of fast enforcement to restore their peace. These toxic situations very rarely get better overnight but they can improve over the longer term as communities join up to find restorative solutions.

The brutal truth is that there are no quick fixes when the proverbial horse has bolted, which is why PMS is completely invested in the longer and deeper restorative approach. Discussing these ASB issues at one of our regular team meetings, Alan a PMS Trustee made this observation about some students from Trafalgar School in Hilsea

“I am in my eighties and was recently a passenger on a fairly full bus at school leaving time, there were half a dozen or so Trafalgar School pupils on board, all of them quiet, well behaved, no loud shouting and definitely no foul language or swearing, as the bus filled up with each stop it was very noticeable that several of the pupils quickly offered up seats, not only to older/disabled folk, but to other younger adults as well.  Having previously experienced a totally different young people travelling scenario, I was very impressed by the behaviour and politeness extended by these boys and girls so much so that I did send an email to the staff at Trafalgar, with congratulations regarding the co-operation and attitude demonstrated by the young people. Surely this is in part the result of ‘restorative’ practice that I understand has been embedded within the school community”

Portsmouth Mediation Service has a huge vision to see Portsmouth become established as a Restorative City and so we were extremely excited last year to learn of Trafalgar’s School Restorative journey through a presentation by the Headteacher Claire Copeland alongside some of her restorative champion students.

Subsequently our service manager Steve Rolls along with Kay & Sarah two of our key volunteers who specialise in SEND mediation had the privilege of spending a morning at the school to learn more about how the school has intentionally put people and relationships at the forefront of everything they do.

We asked our volunteer Kay to share some of her experience of this visit.

“You know you are somewhere special the moment you walk through the door because you are only a stranger for a moment.

The reception staff come out to meet you in person to help with signing-in and then everyone you pass in the corridor makes sure to make eye contact and say Hi.

Trafalgar is a Relational School which lives and breathes the Restorative Model. Staff allowed us to join their Monday check-in circles before the start of the school day. Each person shared a little of how they were starting the week and caring enquiries were made of each other. We were included as participants, not observers, an important detail.

Once the bell had rung, pupils made their way to their vertical tutor groups for their own check-in to start the week. Children from 11-16 sat listening to each other and watching out for signs of someone maybe having had a difficult weekend and needing an extra bit of support. Teaching staff explained the trust and responsibility engendered by these groups: the new ones learning from their elders and then, in turn, shepherding the next new ones in as they become more senior students.

During break, we spent time with Restorative Practice Ambassadors, pupils who have chosen to take an extra level of training and become identified as trusted individuals who can be approached by any pupil, at any time, on any matter, to ask for initial help. The Ambassodors explained that, where appropriate, they will help the pupil to engage in a Restorative conversation with the person with whom they are having difficulty. This happens swiftly before matters deteriorate further. There is healthy take-up of this offer which speaks volumes about the trust that has been built, not only in the Ambassadors, but also in the Restorative model throughout the school: this is how we do it here.

When we were leaving, we walked the corridors once more with staff: “Well done again on the award, Harvey.” “Shirt tucked in please Jessica”. The ordinary stuff of secondary school running right alongside a very special sense of a safe community for all”