Relational responsibility, social discipline and behaviour in school: re-orienting discipline and authority through a distributed network of relational accountability

Hibbin, Rebecca (2023) Relational responsibility, social discipline and behaviour in school: re-orienting discipline and authority through a distributed network of relational accountability. Pastoral Care in Education . ISSN 0264-3944

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/02643944.2023.2263453

Abstract

This paper provides an exploration of a non-hierarchical model of discipline observed in one Secondary School in the North-East of England, that employed the whole-school use of Restorative Practice enhanced by vertically structured Coaching Groups. This model supported a school community characterised by working restoratively with others to achieve an environment of high challenge-high support (Wachtel, 2013). Drawing on an original evaluation of Embedding Restorative Practice in Schools (Warin & Hibbin, 2020), the ‘Distributed Network of Relational Accountability’ (Hibbin & Warin, 2021) that this school created was based on relationship over authority and collective accounts of responsibility over individualised notions of blame. This model is described and unpacked, to understand how such a relationship-centred approach to behaviour that disrupts traditional ways of engaging with discipline in school, can be implemented and sustained over time. Key themes in relation to the modelling and practice of pro-social skills within the context of Coaching, and the democratization of the disciplinary system through discernment and knowing the child, are explored. It is suggested that such practice that is based on notions of Relational Responsibility (McNamee & Gergen, 1999) alongside a whole school ethos of care (Warin, 2017) fosters commitment, pro-social ability and ultimately leads to more democratic versions of Restorative Practice. In addition, it supplies both students and teachers with important opportunities for community building and disclosure, through exposure to diversity within the secure family base of the Coaching Group.


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