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A week of mixed emotions for our Year 6, Year 7 and Year 8 parents with these young men now on camp I am sure our parents are noticing the empty space at the dinner table and maybe the decrease in noise with less sibling interaction around the house. I am also positive that this journey off to camp also comes with a few nerves and questions. As a parent myself, I hope school camps teach our children resilience, better equipping them for the world at large. I hope the St Patrick’s camp program also enables stronger friendships to be formed, memories to be created and a feeling of worth for each and every student. I also know that school camps allow for stronger relationships to be formed between the students and the staff who have attended these camps.

It is the formation of these relationships between staff and students on such events like camps that I will discuss in this week’s Calling. These relationships are the basis for restorative practice. By now, I would hope that many of our parents are familiar with or have heard the term ‘Restorative Practice’. Although there are many ways that schools have adopted this concept they all have the following points in common:

  • In any discipline intervention, we try to focus on restoring any harm done and view the incident primarily as a teaching opportunity – critically, one that may never come again.
  • The fundamental premise of restorative practice is that conflict and wrongdoing primarily – and most importantly – cause harm to relationships and this harm must be repaired in order to move forward.

Important in the restorative practice process is an understanding that the men of St Patrick’s share a need to feel wanted and to be part of the group. In the school environment, one of the fundamental needs of the community is for cooperative group relationships on many levels. The highest levels of cooperative relations in groups are found when individuals feel a high level of pride in membership of the group and a high level of respect within the group. A high level of pride in being a member of the group means that students feel that “It’s good to be a St Patrick’s College student”. A high level of respect within the group is felt when a student believes that he has a place here at St Patrick’s, that he is a valued member of the community and people take an individual interest in his well being. Thus one of our goals on camp is to build group identity and positive identification as these are critical to the restorative practice process. For staff, camp is about strengthening relationships with students and gaining the respect of the students. However, this feeling of belonging and significance is only one side of the coin.

Having the ability to maintain a sense of belonging and significance for all parties in conflict situations is the real challenge. From time to time, in any group, things will go wrong, conflict will occur and members will do the wrong thing. In addition to building belonging and significance, it is how the community deals with conflict and wrongdoing that is critical to building healthy, safe communities. Thus the challenge for St Patricks is to address conflict and wrongdoing in a manner that maintains a sense of belonging and significance for all involved parties.

As previously stated, the fundamental premise of restorative practice is that conflict and wrongdoing primarily and most importantly cause harm to relationships and this harm must be repaired in order to move forward. Without positive relationships between staff and students we don’t have a great deal to use as our restorative practice tools.

I ask all the St Patricks community to please join me in thanking those staff and students who have braved the weather this week to strengthen their relationships. I know you will be better students and better teachers as a result.

Pictured below: Year 8 Camp

Fight the good fight!

Mr Darren Kearney – Dean of Students

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