Laying the Groundwork: Margaret Thorsborne’s Guide to Successful Implementation of Restorative Practices in Schools

Restorative practices have steadily gained traction in educational circles as a transformative approach to conflict resolution, fostering empathy, and promoting positive community culture. However, as Margaret Thorsborne and her team from Ready4RP highlighted in their riveting workshop, implementing these practices requires more than just a theoretical understanding. A foundational element, often overlooked, is assessing and cultivating the readiness of a school or organization to embrace such transformative change.

The backdrop for this enlightening session was the combined expertise of the Ready4RP team: Margaret (or ‘Marg’ as she is often affectionately called), along with Sue and Bev. Their rich tapestry of experiences, spanning various countries including Australia, the USA, Canada, the UK, SE Asia, and New Zealand, informed the core of the workshop. This trio, having witnessed firsthand the triumphs and challenges of integrating restorative practices in diverse settings, presented a holistic approach to laying down the groundwork.

Margaret began by underlining a key insight: a school’s readiness is paramount. Rather than diving headfirst into training sessions and strategy implementations, the focus should initially be on introspection. Schools need to gauge their cultural and transformational readiness for the shift restorative practices demand. By addressing these internal dynamics upfront, educators and leaders can create what Margaret beautifully termed “the fertile ground” – an environment conducive for the seeds of restorative practices to take root and flourish.

Drawing from their wide-ranging experiences, the Ready4RP team presented case studies showcasing schools at various stages of readiness. These real-world examples highlighted common challenges faced, from resistance to change to misaligned school values. They also celebrated success stories where schools, having done the groundwork, witnessed a harmonious shift to restorative practices.

A standout feature of the workshop was the introduction of a framework developed by the Ready4RP team. This structured approach aims to help schools assess their level of preparedness and offers guidelines on steps to enhance readiness. The framework isn’t a one-size-fits-all checklist but a flexible tool, adaptable to the unique characteristics and challenges of each educational institution.

The workshop was not just a theoretical exposition. Interactivity was its heartbeat. Attendees participated in group discussions, brainstorming sessions, and even role-play exercises to simulate the assessment of a school’s readiness. This hands-on approach ensured that participants left with not just knowledge, but also the confidence to apply these insights in their respective settings.

By the end of the workshop, a singular message resonated clearly: successful implementation of restorative practices is a journey, not a destination. And like all journeys, its success is predicated on adequate preparation. With the roadmap provided by Margaret and the Ready4RP team, educators and leaders are now better equipped to embark on this transformative path, ensuring that every step taken is on fertile ground.

In the realm of education, where the landscape is continually evolving, workshops like these serve as essential compasses. Margaret Thorsborne’s guidance, backed by her team’s collective wisdom, has undoubtedly charted a clearer course for many eager to bring about meaningful change in their schools and organizations.