Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 189–207 | Cite as

Developing student social skills using restorative practices: a new framework called H.E.A.R.T

  • Michelle Kehoe
  • Helen Bourke-Taylor
  • David Broderick


Students attending schools today not only learn about formal academic subjects, they also learn social and emotional skills. Whole-school restorative practices (RP) is an approach which can be used to address student misbehaviour when it occurs, and as a holistic method to increase social and emotional learning in students. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of RP on student behaviour from the perspectives of students and teachers. Six schools participated in interviews and focus groups. Students and teachers were asked about the use of RP and the impact on behaviour. Students and teachers identified five main themes: greater harmony, increased empathy towards others, awareness of one’s own behaviour and being accountable for that, increased respect, and reflective thinking. These aspects increase students’ social skills. This paper discusses a new framework which describes the positive impact of RP on student behaviour and thinking. The findings have broad implications for school communities and highlight the need to move towards more relational behaviour management approaches.


Restorative practices School discipline Behaviour management Qualitative study Teachers Adolescent students Social skills 



The authors would like to thank the following people for their assistance: Professor Sheryl Hemphill, Marg Armstrong of Just Practices, and Phillipa Lovell and Bronwyn Egan from the Catholic Education Office Melbourne. In particular, a huge thank you to the six school who participated in this research study, the school principals, teachers and students.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Kehoe
    • 1
  • Helen Bourke-Taylor
    • 2
  • David Broderick
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Positive Psychology and EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityStrathfieldAustralia
  2. 2.School of Primary Health CareMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  3. 3.School of PsychologyAustralian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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