The Restorative Classroom: Using Restorative Approaches to Foster Effective Learning


The Restorative Classroom: Using Restorative Approaches to Foster Effective Lear
Jun 2011


Foster a mutually supportive learning environment in the classroom

Restorative approaches are about more than just repairing relationships when things go wrong, they are also about making and maintaining relationships and they inform a style of teaching just as much as they do an approach to problem solving and conflict resolution.

By giving everyone a voice, considering everyone’s thoughts, feelings and needs and believing in people’s ability to find solutions to their own problems by working together, young people will develop the language and skills they need to properly engage with their peers.

The Restorative Classroom invites classroom teachers and teaching assistants to reflect on themselves, on their role, their purpose and their intention in the classroom and on their current style of engagement with their students. It combines a focus on the making, maintaining and repairing of relationships in the classroom with the development of social responsibility and a mutually supportive learning community in that classroom.


The Restorative Classroom: Using Restorative Approaches to Foster Effective Learning is a comprehensive resource that will:

  • encourage your students to develop, maintain and repair their relationships
  • allow teachers reflect on their role and the way they engage with their students
  • acknowledge the importance of circle time in building relationships
  • emphasise the importance of humour and fun in building relationships
  • help you to learn how to get the best out of your students.

Summary of contents

The theoretical model of The Restorative Classroom is supported by an extensive range of activities and resources copiable for classroom or tutor group use from the CD-ROM that accompanies the book.

The use of the activities and processes for staff cohesion is also encouraged and facilitated with appropriate activities.

The Restorative Classroom: Using Restorative Approaches to Foster Effective Learning will:

  • give each of your students a voice and the ability to find solutions to their own problems by working together
  • help your students to see situations from another person’s perspective
  • manage the troughs and dips in your students’ relationships with their peers, teachers and themselves
  • develop the skills to handle conflict and challenging situations
  • motivate your students by developing a good relationship with them.

Chapter breakdown


Chapter 1: A relational and restorative pedagogy – what is it and who is it for?
This chapter sets the scene for the book, which combines a focus on the making, maintaining and repairing of relationships in the classroom on a day-to-day basis with the development of social responsibility and a mutually supportive learning community in that classroom. The more young people feel included, respected, encouraged and challenged appropriately the more they will learn, and the less they will choose to engage in antisocial or disruptive behaviours in the first place.

Chapter 2: Setting the context
This chapter looks at the historical roots of ‘restorative practices or approaches’ and how a relational and restorative pedagogy embraces many initiatives already in place in schools.

Chapter 3: Introducing the five key themes for creating a restorative classroom
The key themes identified in this chapter inform an approach that helps to develop a caring, inclusive, harmonious classroom atmosphere and develop the pro-social skills of all those in the classroom.

  • Theme 1 – Everyone has their own unique and equally valued perspective
  • Theme 2 – Thoughts influence emotions; emotions influence behaviour
  • Theme 3 – Empathy and consideration
  • Theme 4 – Needs and unmet needs
  • Theme 5 – Collective responsibility for the choices made and their outcomes

Chapter 4: Developing relationships through circles
This chapter is about creating opportunities for students to build relationships with their classmates and peers. This can be through whole-class activities, working in pairs or small groups and using other opportunities such as circle time. By creating a class community that cares for one another, you will help contribute to community cohesion throughout the school and guard against bullying behaviour.

Chapter 5: Fostering social responsibility
This chapter provides a strategy for raising awareness of others’ needs in order to develop mutual respect and understanding in a group. It also offers suggestions for running a variety of circle sessions to develop greater understanding of how the whole class can address each other’s needs.

Chapter 6: Getting along – learning how to speak ‘restorative’
This chapter explores some of the skills young people will need to be able to have productive conversations with each other. It assumes that the class has begun to develop the trust and safety that comes from getting to know each person in the class and builds on the skills students will need to continue to get along with each other day after day.

Chapter 7: Classroom practice – how to resist the temptation to ‘manage’ behaviour
This chapter reviews the essence of a restorative approach and considers the implication of this approach for teaching and learning. It shows how important it is to also have fluent adult ‘restorative’ speakers in the classroom and reminds us of the overlaps between our restorative language and what we are required to be teaching young people in terms of their social and emotional skills and the skills they use for their personal development, learning and thinking.

Chapter 8: Teaching and learning in a restorative classroom
This chapter begins with a summary of the values and beliefs of a restorative approach and briefly explores the implications for teaching and learning. It then offers some suggestions to teachers keen to find out more, referring to people whose ideas fit with relational and restorative ways of doing things. Finally it offers a few practical suggestions, which, in combination with those from previous chapters, give a flavour of what a restorative classroom can look like. Once you and your students embark on this approach together the impact on teaching, learning and classroom atmosphere should be tangible.

Chapter 9: Responding restoratively when things have gone wrong
This chapter provides strategies for the restorative teacher to use when relationships have been harmed between the teacher and one or more students, between some of the students themselves or between the students and their studies. It also explores the idea that those with a problem or conflict are the best placed to resolve it.

This chapter describes six restorative responses that can be adapted for spontaneous classroom use, including:

  • Restorative enquiry
  • Restorative thinking sheets
  • Restorative re-framing
  • Restorative conversations
  • Corridor conferencing
  • Classroom restorative circles.

Chapter 10: The restorative staffroom and its place in the restorative school
This chapter is about staffroom culture and relationships and the impact this has on what happens in classrooms. It is about the role senior leaders and middle managers play in modelling relational and restorative skills with their staff teams and the importance this will have for staff ethos. This chapter will look at how staff teams are supported to make relationships and connections with each other, how they can be supported to maintain these relationships and what mechanisms and training is in place to help them repair relationships when these are affected by conflicts and disagreements.


Recommended resources



A4 ring binder, 200 pages
Accompanying CD-ROM



1 x enhanced PDF eBook

Accompanying files include:
1 x Word template
29 x PDF resources  


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