Restorative practices

A set of strategies that can transform learning environments and help school staff respond more effectively to unacceptable behaviour.


Restorative practices are rooted in restorative justice. They emphasize repairing the harm done to people and relationships, rather than punishing people.

By building more supportive learning environments and focusing on social-emotional learning, restorative practices can:

  • reduce social barriers to learning
  • engage more students
  • create a context for understanding and valuing diversity
  • nurture a sense of belonging
  • promote positive mental health

Foundational ideas

Foundational ideas of restorative practice include empowering others and using practices that provide high standards and high support.

Restorative practices have the following positive impacts:

  • people of all ages are happier, more cooperative, engaged and productive, more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them, rather than to or for them
  • schools can adopt practices that provide both high standards and high support
  • relationships change when we move away from blaming, stigmatizing, excusing or rescuing and use more positive language
  • staff are empowered to respond effectively to classroom disruptions to end interpersonal conflict or minimize behavioural and relationship problems

Research-based evidence

Documented studies have also shown that restorative practices in schools:

  • reduced number of suspensions and expulsions
  • reduced office referrals
  • reduced aggression
  • improved social skills

Key components

Key components of restorative practices include:

  • a strong focus on relationships
    • universal strategies for enhanced communication skills for the whole school
    • strategies for a targeted population to practice conflict resolution skills
    • more intensive interventions for students who have been involved in serious incidents
  • strong leadership and positive modelling by school staff
  • a continuum of strategies, from informal (affective statements and questions) to formal (restorative conferences)


Learn what restorative practice is and why it is important.