How do we resolve conflict in the classroom?

At the heart of any kind of conflict is relationships and communication

Incidences of conflict in the classroom seem to be increasing. Both primary and secondary teachers and students are likely to experience difficulties in dealing with conflict situations, with the Evening Standard reporting last night that one in five secondaries in London is struggling with classroom disorder. Tim Ross' article quoted new figures from the DCFS, stating that ‘Classroom disruption is twice as bad in London's inner-city schools as across the rest of England...'

Reading such reports taps into the issue of dealing with classroom disorder, and the best way to approach conflict in the classroom. Only recently, politicians have been wading in by encouraging the use of physical restraint as conflict resolution.

What are the other options? At MakeBelieve Arts, we think there are plenty.

There are many organisations that have resources and techniques to help teachers and educators deal with conflict in the classroom. Transforming Conflict trains and supports people in educational settings. The organisation uses the philosophy and practices of Restorative Justice, "...which puts repairing harm done to relationships and people over and above the need for assigning blame and dispensing punishment."

Essentially, the use of a restorative approach to conflict asks four key questions:

  • - What has happened?
  • - Who has been affected?
  • - How can we involve everyone who has been affected in finding a way forward?
  • - How can everyone do things differently in the future?

The restorative approach has proven to be effective for both teachers and students.

MakeBelieve Arts has combined the restorative ethos with our expertise in delivery to enhance our Emotional Intelligence programmes. We've developed an interactive Restorative Approaches programme that empowers pupils with the language and emotional tools they need to manage conflict.

At the heart of any kind of conflict is relationships and communication. Before we use punitive measures to solve problems, let's find long-lasting, restorative solutions to conflict in the classroom.