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Our School Story:
Loughshore Education Centre

Loughshore Education Centre is one of 34 Education Other Than At School establishments in Northern Ireland and was the first of its kind when it opened in 2002. Loughshore supports some of the most marginalised and vulnerable young people in Belfast and its surrounding areas. It is located in an area of high socio-economic deprivation and supports children with complex social emotional and behavioural difficulties, in addition to special education needs. Students are often school refusers, expelled from mainstream schools, looked after children, or previously out of the education system for a considerable time. For most of the children there, Loughshore is their last chance at attending an education setting. It offers them the opportunity to access the curriculum in a nurture-based personalised learning context, where they can develop holistically and reach their potential.


The staff at Loughshore have a very child-centred and relational learning approach and go above and beyond every day for their students. They could see the merit in a restorative practice approach and wanted to meaningfully embed it into practice and values. The high-pressure nature of the setting and the complex needs of the students suggested that a restorative practice culture embedded in provision for the long term would help meet the needs of both students and staff.


Loughshore takes a flexible common-sense, students’ needs-based approach to how lessons are structured and how they deal with behavioural issues. The teachers are aware of the important role that their own behaviour can play in escalating/ de-escalating certain situations and the need to model expected behaviours, and their policies and practices are reflective of this.


Two years ago, Loughshore became part of Northern Ireland Education Authority’s Restorative Practice Schools Pilot. Prior to this all staff had completed whole school online and inset CPD Restorative Practice. Currently, Loughshore is piloting a student peer mentoring in restorative practice programme with the Northern Ireland Education Authority Restorative Practice Schools project. Drop-in access to an E.A. Restorative Practices Advisor for staff and students in Loughshore happens on a regular basis and is very well received by staff and students.


Loughshore is partaking in efforts to become a Nurture Advisory Service-recognised Nurture School. It has been highlighted as a centre of good practice for wellbeing as the only EOTAS in the Education Psychology Service Staff Wellbeing Lead project. Loughshore has also been part of the University of Ulster’s Longitudinal study ‘Taking Boys Seriously’ relational learning project and has been cited as an example of good practice in strengthening student voice and relational learning. The centre initiated two Mental Health First Aiders two years ago and now has eight as well as a ‘Being Well Doing Well’ Champion, E.A. Wellbeing Champion and an EPS Staff Wellbeing Lead- roles which feed into a sound basis for effective Restorative Practices provision and vision. The Centre has been awarded a Compassionate Schools Award, and a UNICEF Student Voice Award and is currently applying for their AwareNI Investors in Mental Health award.

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