Bonding across difference in beloved community: subverting the politics of domination in school

Hibbin, Rebecca orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8081-210X (2024) Bonding across difference in beloved community: subverting the politics of domination in school. International Journal of Social Pedagogy, 13 (1).

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In recent years, the whole-school use of restorative practice has become synonymous with relational approaches based on empowerment and democratisation to support the reparation of harm between victim and offender. Similarly, the preventative function of restorative practice to the development of pro-social skills within a learning community has been highlighted alongside the centrality of whole-school approaches to social and emotional learning. In one setting, the whole-school use of restorative practice was enhanced and delivered through vertically structured coaching groups that provided a secure family base and exposure to diversity for pupils throughout their time in school. Coaching groups operated as a plumb-line back to restorative practice, as the site where pro-social skills could be tacitly modelled and rehearsed. Coaching groups provided an opportunity for trusting relationships to develop, impacting on feelings of safety and providing opportunities for disclosure and safeguarding. Subsequently, collective responsibility for behaviour was supported, creating a distributed network of relational accountability and transforming how sanctions were administered, to create a non-hierarchical and relational system of discipline. This relates to transgressive forms of education and a socially orientated pedagogy, emphasising accountability alongside a whole-school ethos of care. Responsibility for behaviour is reframed from a singular to a collective pursuit, where relational responsibility eschews the alienating effect of individual notions of blame. Ultimately, this transformation subverted the classroom’s politics of domination, allowing perceptions of learning and conflict to become entirely reframed.

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