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How to improve

Every school wants to improve and many are planning now for that ambition in 2023.

However, I’d contend that restorative school cultures have a better chance at improvement across multiple ambitions than schools that choose control-based cultures.

Which one is your school?  Run your school’s tendencies against these ambitions and ask which column your school would default to:

Ambition Restorative approach Control approach
Improve student language Make adjustments to the conditions in which conversations happen. Look to “stop kids swearing” with a Term 1 focus on a zero-tolerance approach to swearing.
Improve uniform compliance Involve the students in messaging to the community about identity, belonging and connection. Stamp out non-compliance through an unsustainable crackdown based on immediate consequences.
Improve student engagement Use classroom architecture that reduces teacher talk in favour of mobilising students in their learning. Focus on teacher performance at the front of the room and judgement of that performance by leaders who rarely teach.
Improve student responsibility for their actions and self-regulation Approach wrongdoing with an intention for the student to be thanked quickly for taking the responsibility to repair relational harm. Increase the length of student punishments, resulting in longer periods of shame and removing any opportunity to take personal responsibility.
Improve teacher capacity Provide skills/training, ensure the psychological safety to fail and provide opportunity to practice. Remove supports by insisting that teachers handle fractious students themselves and judge them on whether it worked or not.
Improve parental buy-in and support Drip feed parents with your expertise, progress and successful case studies about learning and citizen building. Communicate about events and recognise only high achievers instead of progress.
Improve student voice Create classroom experiences where students are asked more questions and are in constant discussion. Buy a Student Leadership Program and task an emerging leader to run it with a miniscule percentage of your student population.
Improve anything Focus on small changes to context with the potential for impact and progress. Aim for perfection, absolutes, miracles and eradication.


So, which one is your school?  No, really?

And for some bonus provocation … which column reeks of hard work and the misery of unrealised ambitions for your staff?

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. There’s still time to discuss what a restorative Real Schools Partnership can do for your school in 2023 and well beyond.  Here’s some schools who’ve done just that:

Geelong Lutheran College

Mount View High School

Swansea Public School

Orange Grove Public School

Ferncourt Public School

Richmond Primary School

Kananook Primary School

Reply to this email if you wouldn’t mind a chat about your school being next.


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