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Our School Story:
New-Bridge Integrated College

New-Bridge is an Integrated and all-ability college in Loughbrickland, Co Down Northern Ireland, educating 654 pupils of all backgrounds and faiths.

 

We began our journey as a restorative school back in 2012 and since then have continued to hone and develop a whole school culture where relational practice is at the centre of all that we do. We hold the strong belief in people’s ability to resolve their own problems given time and support to do this. Restorative Practice informs our “relationship keeping” We use restorative practice not to excuse poor behavioural choices but to learn from personal accountability and responsibility for our own actions and teach our students to make better decisions to repair relationships when conflict arises.

 

Our ‘When the Adults Change…’ journey began in 2017 and we delivered whole school training in 2018. In August 2022- we were delighted to join Paul’s Push and Pull factors whole school training which served as a wonderful refresh of our core values and the importance of keeping them at the forefront of all that we do. Since then, our strategy group has engaged in Paul's Online course and key takeaways have been shared at regular intervals with our full teaching and non-teaching staff.

We replaced a list of school rules to three Core Values in 2019 and have updated our Positive behaviour Policy in line with our relational approach to teaching and learning. Most recently adding our Restorative Practice Scripts- which script difficult conversations using restorative approaches We find them to be an effective tool in further developing our restorative way and deepening the culture of relational learning.

We routinely send Praise Postcards home, and positive phone calls home are made on Fridays by form tutors and year coordinators. This has been powerful and much more meaningful to our pupils than monetary rewards of the past.

At New-Bridge we are all about turning specific events into learning opportunities for our young people and our Intervention Days are a good example of restorative practice on action. We rely very much on the skill and expertise of youth workers, as the school has now employed its own full-time Youth Worker who has brought in youth work pedagogy and practices which relate to our young people into our school community. A main focus of the school youth worker is to establish healthy relationships with students so that they feel supported to achieve their potential and have a trusting adult whom they can talk to about their feelings and emotions. 

 

We have set up collaborations with a number of Youth Work Groups to support intervention work in our school. We have set up a 'Restorative Us’ team of teachers to lead and inspire our entire community on our restorative way. We have moved further away from traditional punitive measures such as suspensions, replacing them with Intervention Days or sessions which are more self-reflective and emphasise personal accountability. Our students therefore learn new coping strategies. 

 

Last academic year we reduced our suspensions from school by 28% from 2020/21- 2021/22, whilst with those who availed of an intervention session (instead of a suspension) 89% of did not repeat the same behaviour. This demonstrates the impact of accountability conversations and focused work on repair.

We are delighted to hold the title of ‘Partner School’ and want to continue to develop this partnership every day in our daily interactions with our pupils and staff. Our Restorative work will continue to grow in specific lessons which focus on the literacy and language our pupils use towards each other and members of staff. Our monthly restorative practice focus will extend now to pupils who understand what restorative approaches and language mean in developing strong relationships.

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