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Pupils Form a Transatlantic Alliance

Pupils and staff travelled all the way from a Californian secondary school to spend five days at Christ’s Hospital School, near Horsham, to explore the use of restorative justice in schools.

From 13-17 May, eight Year 11 pupils from Oxford Day Academy (ODA), in San Francisco Bay’s city of East Palo Alto, lived in boarding houses at Christ’s Hospital and shadowed CH pupils of the same age while they went about their daily school routine. Five members of accompanying staff met with their counterparts at CH and observed lessons and activities.The visit culminated in a presentation by staff and pupils from ODA on restorative justice.

The focus of the visit was to explore the use of restorative justice as a disciplinary system in schools. Restorative justice is a powerful approach to discipline that focuses on repairing harm through inclusive processes and shifts the focus of discipline from punishment to learning and from the individual to the community. Used in schools, this helps pupils resolve conflict, build trust and prevent harm.

Participating pupils from ODA were picked in a competitive process, which involved submitting an essay, being interviewed and then taking on an area of accountability for the trip, such as organising transport. ODA pupil Tevita, had the following to say about the visit to CH: “The most important concept I learned while I was a resident at CH was respect. Respect goes a long way at CH, from holding the door open for someone to respecting the teachers and staff. Some students my age think they are rebels, and to be cool, you must be rude and disrespectful to everyone. But while I was at CH, they really opened my eyes to a new world, where being a ‘goodie goodie’ is a good thing and everyone is on the same page about their education. I was so lucky to be able to visit CH, teach the concept of Restorative Justice, meet and make new friends, and I’m just overall thankful for being given this opportunity. This was a once in a lifetime exposure to the life of Christ’s Hospital and England that I will never forget.”

“The pupils’ work ethic at CH was so amazing to watch,” said another ODA pupil, Abraham, “Whenever they had a chance to have free time they would go to their rooms and study, which is the opposite of what some of our students do, including myself. I met so many funny, cool, and kind people, who made me feel at home. The trip overall was amazing!  It opened my eyes to see the good in life.”

Oxford Day Academy teaches through an Oxford tutorial model, developed by Oxford University, in an effort to raise aspiration and achievement for inner city urban youth in the San Francisco Bay area. This teaching method is also being pioneered in British state schools to increase access to Oxford University for unrepresented groups.

Representatives from Christ’s Hospital School and Oxford day Academy met last summer at an event held at Oxford University; they discovered a shared vision of the transformative power of education in addressing issues of social mobility and of raising aspiration and achievement. They also discovered other areas of common interest and shared enthusiasm; both schools, for instance, focus on giving back to the local community, not just on what happens within the school, and are committed to developing new techniques for teaching and preserving order within schools. They decided to collaborate towards developing solutions in facing their shared goals and challenges; hence ODA’s visit to Christ’s Hospital.

Head Teacher of Christ’s Hospital Simon Reid: “The integrity and energy of Oxford Day Academy’s educational vision is nothing less than inspirational. That vision is also completely in tune with the mission and ethos of Christ’s Hospital. It was a privilege to welcome their staff and students to West Sussex. We look forward to many more years of working together with Oxford Day Academy, transforming young lives through education. We sincerely hope this collaborative work will involve local Horsham state secondary schools as well. We learn so much from our educational partners across all sectors.”

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