Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Evaluation of the Scottish pilot of restorative practices in school settings

Restorative practices refers to a broad cluster of actions and interventions designed to encourage individuals who have infringed school discipline to take responsibility for their actions and make reparation for any damage they have caused. The restorative practices pilot projects funded by the Scottish Executive Education Department represent one strand of the Scottish Executive's range of initiatives to promote Better Behaviour Better Learning in Scottish schools. Others include the Framework for Intervention/Behaviour Coordinator scheme, an approach which is consistent with restorative practices. In the general approach to the improvement of school discipline, there is an emphasis on better inter-agency working, the strengthening of home-school links and an increase in classroom staff. Three local authorities are piloting the use of restorative practices in schools. This research investigates the way in which each local authority is interpreting the concept of restorative practice and its impact on classroom interaction. The researchers are working alongside those responsible for implementing the initiative at local authority and school level throughout the duration of the project.


In applying the principles of restorative practices to school discipline, the local authorities and schools aim:

  • to identify the training and support which staff feel is required to enable them to implement the initiatives effectively. It will be necessary to explore the particular training needs of staff working at different levels (e.g. school managers, classroom teachers, guidance staff, classroom assistants, home-school link workers and school support staff)
  • to explore the different situations, contexts and areas of the curriculum where the new approaches are employed
  • to analyse the ways in which different participants (teachers, classroom assistants, pupils, parents) respond to the innovative approaches and the conditions which appear to produce beneficial outcomes
  • to identify the characteristics of schools, staff or others which contribute to positive or negative outcomes
  • to identify the support required from local authorities to promote and support school-level implementation

The complementary aims of the evaluation are the following:

  • to produce a literature review of key UK and North American/Australian texts on restorative practice/justice in school
  • to work collaboratively with staff in the three local authorities to clarify the nature and goals of the pilot initiatives and develop a methodology for the evaluation, in which participants, as well as researchers, play a critical part. It will be important to be clear about how the new initiatives reflect the principles of restorative practice, the precise nature of the innovation in each case and how these differ across authorities
  • to use a range of measures, including school self-evaluation, to monitor the impact of the initiative over time


Education Department

Project team

Dr Gwynedd Lloyd, University of Edinburgh

Professor Sheila Riddell, University of Edinburgh

Professor Gillean McCluskey, University of Edinburgh

Jean Kane, University of Glasgow

Start date 2004
End date 2006