VERSO-programme offers training in restorative approach, restorative practices and mediation to children and professionals working with children in early childhood education, schools and other learning institutions.
Restorative practices and mediation are used as an alternative and child friendly justice processes in many level of society. Mediation is understood as a fundamental right to every citizen in every age and state. The aim is teach children to understand their rights as well as learn social skills by mediation. Looking at Child Friendly Justice, one basic focus is to give children information and experience of restorative practices and mediation even in kindergartens and schools.
Every conflict can be seen as a learning situation, which works both reactively as well as proactively. Individuals are seen as experts of their own living circumstances and therefore the important focus is to empower them for their lives and future just there where they live. School mediation is seen as learning situation where children learn not only to manage conflicts but also to use their right of participating and being heard. Main purpose of mediation is that conflict parties can meet in safe situation, that they are heard and that they can influence to process and commit to the solutions. This is proactive work for children to be active citizens and aware of their rights. The understanding of the access of justice should have roots in the daily life of schools.
The Finnish Basic Education Act and Core Curriculum are giving strong support for increasing participation of children in their schools, as well as for children to have opportunities to practice mediation and negotiation skills.
See the latest presentation of VERSO-program in this pdf-file. This presentation was held by programme director Maija Gellin in Belfast in March 2023. It gives some updated information of the results of our program.
Dr. Maija Gellin had a presentation on 28.9.2020 in international seminari (webinar) ”Restorative Justice in Education” organized by Scottish Network of Restorative Justice Researchers with the support of the Scottish Center for Crime and Justice Research and the University of Edinburgh. The aim of the seminar was to learn from international practices and develpoments and think together how this could be relevant and developed further in Scotland. The other key speakers were Dr. Dorothy Vaandering, Canada, Mr. Chris Straker, England and prof. Gillean McCluskey, Scotland. See Dr. Gellin’s presentation slides here.
In August 2020 took place an international world conference of Restorative Justice called RJ World 2020. RJ World 2020 brought together people from restorative justice and restorative practice initiatives from across the world. Presenters recorded interviews and share them to the eConference website to be viewed throughout the duration of the conference. Over 700 delegates interacted via Zoom and text. Dr. Maija Gellin and Pia Slögs had the presentation with the title “How to create a restorative school”. See their video here.
The Annual Report 2019 of VERSO-programme in English includes highlights of the activity and also some three-years comparison data from years 2017-2019. Read more here.
Our programme director Maija Gellin’s PhD dissertation ”Restoratiivinen lähestymistapa ja sovittelu peruskoulukontekstissa Kohti eheyttävän kohtaamisen toimintakulttuuria.” (2019) (in English ”Restorative approach and mediation in context of basic education. Towards culture of restorative encounters” is available online at University of Lapland’s database (in Finnish). Read the abstract in English here.
Read more in the article Gellin M. 2018: Mediation in Finnish schools: From conflicts to restoration
European Model for Restorative Juvenile Justice with Children and Young People – report (2015) is opening restorative approach and practices with children and young people. The report was published as a conlcusion of a research project by Tim Chapman (Univ Ulster, Norhern Ireland), Monique Anderson (Univ Leuven, Belgium), Maija Gellin (Univ Lapland, Finland) and Ivo Aertsen (Univ Leuven, Belgium). Finnish model for restorative approach and mediation in schools is included!
More references here.
Ongoing evaluation is an important part of the VERSO-programme.
- over 900 schools trained by 2022: primary, secondary, high schools, and vocational schools
- over 10 000 trained peer mediator pupils active every year
- over 50 000 trained staff members
- over 2300 adult mediators trained with advanced training
- over 10 000 cases mediated yearly
- over 25 000 pupils have solved their conflict succefully in mediation every year
- over 2600 day care units trained to use mediation by the end of 2022
Learning by doing and participation are the important themes in our trainings. By working together we can reflect and learn from each other during the trainings. This is the way to implement the practices suitable for the daily life of a school or day care unit we are working with. During the trainings we also learn how to use the material developed by VERSO-programme to support the daily practice, on going evaluation and information as well as the implementation of the restorative practices as a part of schools safety plans. There are always 2 trainers from VERSO-programme working with staff members and pupils or children when starting the programme in a school or day care.
Our trainings for restrotive approaches are:
- Peer mediation, where pupil mediators help parties of a conflict to find a solution to their conflict by themselves
- Circles and adult-led mediation, where trained staff members guide the parties (can also be conflict between pupil and teacher) to find a common agreement to the conflict
- Conferencing led by trained staff members – pupils and their parents are participating
- Advanced trainings of whole school restorative approach for education professionals In this training teachers learn not only to use restorative practice reactively in the case of conflict but also proactively when teaching. This means that after the training the head and teachers of a school can implement the restorative thinking as a whole school approach and use the restorative tool in daily work in school communities. Experiences of using restorative approach in teaching are very promising and followed up in an academic research, of which the results will be published during next years.
- Trainings for volunteer mentors to strengten and develop restorative methods and mediation skills in their school or day care centre
- Trainings for parents to learn restorative methods and mediation skills to use in family life
- National and local seminars
Please note! To enable English subtitles on the video, click on the captions -button at the bottom right of the screen.