Disciplinary Councils help in this process. These councils are held in the more serious behaviour management circumstances and involve a panel of staff and senior students assessing the actions of a student before making a recommendation to the Headmaster for a decision regarding consequence and positive movement forward. A Disciplinary Council sits for serious offences only, those that might typically result in suspension or expulsion.
This process is a consistent, transparent and democratic model of school discipline – in this regard it sits particularly well with the ‘Democracy’ and ‘Leadership’ pillars of the Round Square IDEALS. It is also educational because, with each sitting of the committee, it provides the opportunity to re-affirm important school values, boundaries and likely outcomes for rule infractions. Additionally, it helps the offending student because genuine personal development occurs during this process as the full extent of a violation is recognised and responsibility is accepted. In this regard, especially if there is harm to an individual or the broader community, elements of Restorative Justice are achieved as steps are taken to rebuild relationships and trust.
While traditional punitive responses look to exact punishment or retribution, Restorative Justice, then, emphasises repairing harm and restoring breaches in relationships. Traditional punishment may form part of the School’s response but our focuses rest more with establishing positive outcomes through teaching empathy and respect and helping students to understand the impact of their actions.
Restorative Justice also allows those who have been affected by an injustice (including family members, staff and the like) to have an opportunity to discuss how this has affected them, and contribute to the process in deciding how this injustice or injury can be repaired. The ‘injury’ may be a physical or emotional harm to an individual, theft of or damage to property (such as the possessions of a fellow student, the fabric of a boarding house or vandalism of a garden bed), or to reputation (of a person or the school).
Such broad membership not only shows that concerns about the impact of injustice are shared across the school community, but can help take decision making out of the hands of an individual, and offer a greater sense of transparency and objectivity.
Wellbeing programs implemented by Advisors and Homeroom teachers and overseen by the Director of Pastoral Care have been designed to promote empathy, courage, generosity and tolerance, and work to prevent breaches of appropriate behaviour in a pro-active and positive way.
The Director of Pastoral Care Mr Barney Buntine can be contacted by emailing him here.