Restorative Practice Conference 2014

Restorative Practice in Schools: Connecting through Restorative Conversations

UntitledLutheran Community Care Services (LCCS) organised its 3rd RP conference on 25 July 2014 at the Furama Riverfront Hotel. We were very privileged to have Ms Lesley Oliver and Ms Lyn Dopper as our keynote speakers for the conference. Lesley and Lyn had worked closely together over the past 8 years in the area of RP.

Lesley, a trained counsellor and educator, has worked in the education system as a teacher, trainer, consultant and manager. She began the restorative journey in 2005 when she worked in collaboration with Terry O’Connell, Director of Real Justice Australia to introduce RP across a district of 33 schools, including following through with the schools in implementing RP and sustaining the RP culture over a period of 4 years. Lesley currently manages a multi-disciplinary student services team in Adelaide, South Australia. The team provides services to a metropolitan school district of 45 schools/ pre-schools for children and students aged 4 to 18 years old who are experiencing social, emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties.

Lyn is the former principal of Rozelle Public School in Sydney, Australia. The school had received the Director-General’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Being and Learning Together, which was attributed to the adoption of RP in the school. Lyn received the Australian College of Educators’ (ACE) Award for Outstanding Leadership in 2010 as “principal of Rozelle Public School and in leading change to improve the quality of teaching and learning for students and teachers in New South Wales’ public schools through leadership of RP.” Lyn also had extensive training working with students with special needs and currently works as a consultant with Terry at Real Justice Australia.

Together, Lesley and Lyn delivered their keynote speech on “The Restorative Challenge: Knowing the Right Conversation”. Through the keynote speech, Lesley and Lyn brought forth the message on how the use of restorative conversations is critical in building positive relationships and creating a positive school culture, which in turn facilitates learning and development.

A distinctive feature of the conference was the sharing by local school personnel on their restorative journey in their work in schools, including the challenges and benefits. The schools that had shared unreservedly on their experience and learning were Ping Yi Secondary School, Catholic Junior College and Macpherson Primary School. This created a great opportunity for local practitioners to learn about the experiences of RP in the local context, which can increase the applicability of knowledge and skills learnt in their own areas of work. Mrs Nicole Gregory from Grace Lutheran College, Australia shared on RP whole school approach. This allowed for comparison of RP implementation between the Singapore and Australia cultures.

One hundred and fifty-three participants, with majority of them representing the schools, attended the conference. From the feedback, more than 90% and 80% participants reported that the keynote presentations and workshops were helpful to their practice and would use what was learnt. We were glad that 48% participants indicated interest to implement RP in their organisations.