Transforming Conflict: Restoring School Communities in Times of Crisis

In a recent presentation titled “R.E.S.T.O.R.E. our schools,” Dr Belinda Hopkins and Monica Alberti shared their expertise on restorative approaches in education, shedding light on the pressing need to address the mental and emotional well-being of school communities during these challenging times.

Dr Belinda Hopkins, founder of Transforming Conflict, National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth and Community Settings, has been at the forefront of promoting restorative practices for over two decades. Her pioneering work introduced the concept of a whole-school restorative approach across the UK in the early 2000s. Today, Transforming Conflict extends its reach beyond schools to include children’s residential care facilities, youth organizations, and community care settings.

The current global situation has presented unprecedented challenges for school communities worldwide. Months of isolation and distressing news bulletins have left students returning to unfamiliar environments with strict guidelines that keep them physically distanced from one another while hidden behind masks. The inability to socialize freely adds an additional layer of strain on their already fragile emotional state.

With academic catch-up becoming a top priority for many educational institutions, there is a risk that some may resort to authoritarian measures as they attempt to reestablish control over students who have spent months away from familiar routines and rhythms within their school community.

Recognizing this potential pitfall, Dr Belinda Hopkins collaborated with Monica Alberti to develop resources specifically designed by UK restorative practitioners aimed at supporting the mental and emotional health of entire school communities during this crisis period. These resources can be accessed through

Belinda’s involvement in various initiatives such as being part of EFRJ Values and Principles Working Party showcases her commitment towards fostering positive change within educational systems globally. Currently serving on their Training Committee further exemplifies her dedication towards advancing restorative justice principles both within academia and society at large.

Monica Alberti, on the other hand, has been actively utilizing these materials in Catalonia. Collaborating with the Catalan Department of Education, she aims to implement a restorative approach not just as a crisis intervention but as an everyday practice within schools. By doing so, Monica seeks to create nurturing and inclusive environments that prioritize emotional well-being alongside academic achievement.

The presentation emphasized the importance of adopting restorative practices in education for promoting social justice and creating harmonious school communities. By prioritizing mental and emotional health alongside academic progress, educators can help students navigate through these challenging times while fostering resilience and empathy.

In conclusion, Dr Belinda Hopkins and Monica Alberti’s presentation shed light on the significance of implementing restorative approaches within educational settings during times of crisis. Their collective efforts aim to restore school communities by addressing the mental and emotional well-being of all stakeholders involved – from students to staff members. Through their resources and initiatives like “R.E.S.T.O.R.E our schools,” they provide valuable guidance towards building resilient educational systems that promote both academic excellence and social justice.