John O’Dowd gave a resounding endorsement to Integrated College Dungannon (ICD) on Wednesday (4 December) when he visited the school to learn about its restorative justice practices. The Minister for Education joined Dungannon and South Tyrone Councillor Kim Ashton at the college, where they met school principal Andrew Sleeth, staff and students.
The college has made a commitment to integrating restorative justice into the school’s ethos and discipline policy, promoting mutual respect and tackling bullying. Since 2007, all students joining ICD in Year 8 are trained in these practices, as are the staff during staff development days.
The guests were impressed by the ways in which the Student Support Team, Staff Support Team, Face to Faith programme, Paired Reading, Mentoring Programme, Social Action Committee, Student Council, and many more programmes in the college are supported by restorative practices. Staff and pupils explained how restorative practice is alive in every aspect of college development and life, from the classroom to the college development plan.
Speaking at the school, Minister O’Dowd congratulated staff and students of ICD and said “This school is certainly way ahead of other schools in relation to their restorative practices and I would recommend to any other school that they should pay a visit to this college. This college has reinforced the importance of giving the students the ownership of their learning, their behaviour and the contributions they can make. Students are aware of what the school expects the staff to do with them and vice versa – this is a quiet revolution and in a style that I have not witnessed in other schools… This school thinks outside the box and I am very impressed”.
The Education Minister’s latest visit to Integrated College Dungannon follows a meeting at Stormont last year when the Minister for Justice, David Ford, invited ICD students to a showcase of restorative practices at Parliament Buildings. On that occasion John O’Dowd expressed a wish to learn more about how this works throughout the college and promotes good practice in teaching and learning.
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