Victoria Louise Harold
Discourses on Behaviour: Is There Room for Restorative Justice in a Secondary School?
by Victoria Louise Harold (Victoria.Harold@calderdale.gov.uk)
School-based behavioural standards and the means to best improve these continue to be a topic for discussion amongst educators, politicians, the general public and the media. Discourses around behaviour management have been dominated by behaviourism and to an increasing extent, a discourse of ‘zero tolerance’ (Cameron, 1998; Clough, Garner, Pardeck and Yeun, 2005). Additional psychological discourses have emerged alongside these influenced by cognitive psychology and within recent education policy, the notion of the ‘whole child’. However, concerns have been raised that such discourses imply a within-child focus that potentially alienates pupils. What is more, it is argued that many dominant discourses fail to acknowledge the socially constructed nature of behaviour and the political, economic and practical reasons why institutions such as schools may wish to maintain such discourses as dominant. Restorative Justice (RJ) is explored and promoted providing an alternative framework which has greater affinity with a social constructionist understanding of behaviour (e.g. Zehr, 2002). The need to understand how to effectively promote such an alternative (Hopkins, 2004; Morrison, 2007) forms the basis of this thesis, which through a case study of one Yorkshire secondary school, looks to expose dominant discourses, showing the implications of these, and how alternative discourses such as those supporting RJ might be constructed. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) has been utilised to analyse transcripts of three focus groups held in the secondary school, as well as the school’s behaviour policy (Fairclough, 2001; van Dijk, 2001). This analysis is discussed in relation to three research questions: What are the dominant discourses on behaviour amongst school staff within a secondary school?; How are certain voices privileged over others?; What are the implications for the construction of alternative discourses and in particular one of relationships and RJ? Further discussion is given to the literature and the network of practice within which those discourses are located (Fairclough, 2001).
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