I have started working on a baseline assessment framework. It features basic questions that a potential facilitator might ask both victim and offender during their first visits. The idea is to ascertain that a restorative intervention is appropriate, safe and properly risk-assessed.
In restorative interventions we deal with vulnerable people, so while we can never 100% predict how an intervention will pan out, we can at least make sure that it is safe to bring victim and offender together and reduce any risk of re-victimisation of the victim through minimisation and manipulation by the offender. We can also spot whether there have been previous encounters between both parties or if any of the parties have been involved in similar (or different) offences. I will publish the questionnaire once I have tried it out a couple of times.
I attended a very interesting workshop on complex and sensitive cases last week. I realised that the main diffence between “ordinary” cases is the level of preparation needed, namely a solid assessment framework. It needs to be safe to offer an intervention, so a really thorough risk assessment, and some co-working seem to be the essential steps to take.
This will be my next step: develop an assessment framework for pracatice in schools! Watch this spot.
I currently work with a group of teenagers who have been removed from their school’s main site. We deliver a physical exercise programme for them, 17 miles away from the school building. Last session was a fascinating case study of Nathanson’s Compass of Shame in action. For the past 8 weeks several of the students continued turning up in jeans, woolly jumpers and plimsolls – completely unsuitable for physical work-outs. Last week I challenged this by suggesting they are scared of failure and that jeans are a security blanket, as they cannot do the exercise we ask of them dressed like this.
They vehemently denied this, but then for the first time all took part in a session of street circuits. Then this happened:
Student A picked up a shopping trolley – so we had to deal with the trolley rather than his lack of engagement (Avoidance)
Student B argued that this was all rubbish (Attack Other)
Student C just walked away (withdrawal/ avoidance).
I made explicit their behaviours to the students (you picking up the trolley means we need to deal with H&S now rather than focusing on you not joining in the exercises). He joined in (for a while) after this.
So: pointing out avoidance behaviour and identifying it as such – while staying calm and positive may work in certain circumstances? We’ll see what happens next time.
Yesterday I attended my first CPD workshop in London (organised through the Restorative Justice Council). It was on “Inclusive Practice”.
The course was held at the Metropolitan Police Empress State building – in itself impressive enough.
Some very interesting ideas and many case studies were discussed by 14 participants, most from youth offending services, but also a couple of school-based practitioners.
I particularly liked the idea of a “thoughts and feelings” graph that can be used for children and young people with ADHD or on the autistic spectrum. It allowed them to use numbers rather than feeling words, thus making it more accessible.
Back tomorrow for “complex and sensitive cases”
Over the past few weeks I was invited back to the Pupil Withdrawal Unit where I had delivered a six week course earlier in the year to support the young people there (year 11) in developing and performing an assembly to showcase their new skills and gain the Community component of their COPE certificate..
We started with a review of Restorative Principles before looking at a theme for our assembly. The young people decided on: water accidentally splashed down the front with facebook comments on the child having wet himself, which in its turn led to a fight outside school which in its turn affected learning and relationships in the classroom.
We spent one morning preparing scripts and themes, the centre manager then rehearsed for several mornings while I booked a local Primary School. We finally went there with 3 staff and 7 nervous year 11s and performed our Jeremy Kyle show to the entire Junior School.
The young people were extremely proud of themselves – rightly so, and the school have invited us to return with the next cohort!
To see the sense of achievement after they had completed their assembly and received the praise of the school’s deputy head teacher was very moving.
Roll on next cohort!
Over the past two weeks I have worked as a centre manager during the Brighton and Hove Easter Schools. At the end of the first week a long-standing feud came to the surface and six year 6 girls each felt so aggrieved they wanted to call parents, started bullying each other and wanted to leave the programme.
I set up a restorative circle and we spent the hour normally dedicated to craft dealing woth the issue at hand. I explained that in the space available I could not help them sort out years of fighting, but I could make Easter School safe.
By the end of the session they had agreed (and adhered ) to the following:
1. In the mornings group A would come in through the playground, group B would be collected from reception to keep both groups safe
2. During craft group A would sit on the stage facing one way, group B would sit in the main hall facing the other way
3. We swapped the girls around to separate them during tuition time
4 By the end of that morning they would come to me with their mobiles and delete each others’ numbers to stop/ avoid prank phone calls.
5. They would go home and block each other on facebook to stop cyberbullying
When I checked back after the Easter weekend, no further problems were reported and the rest of the programme was calm!
This was just a start, but it worked.
Please find under “New” the feedback given to me by the childen on the last course. They were a mix of year 5 and year 6, and I received 8 feedback forms from 12 children.
I have corrected spellings, but left everything else the same.