Cool Schools Peer Mediation Programme

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Cool Schools Peer Mediation Programme

New Zealand
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Training school students so that they can work as effective third party mediators and enable and assist their peers to understand and apply constructive, non-violent responses to conflict in their every day lives. They effectively provide a conflict resolution service in the playground (and sometimes the classroom) which helps ensures that minor conflicts are resolved and do not escalate to major ones. This experiential learning is extremely effective and provides young people with skills and models that will last a lifetime. They are readily transferable to home, community, the workplace etc.

About You
Location
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea
Position in the Ethics Mosaic of Solutions
Factor

Individualism

Principle

Developing self-awareness and interconnectedness

Innovation
Idea:

Training school students so that they can work as effective third party mediators and enable and assist their peers to understand and apply constructive, non-violent responses to conflict in their every day lives. They effectively provide a conflict resolution service in the playground (and sometimes the classroom) which helps ensures that minor conflicts are resolved and do not escalate to major ones. This experiential learning is extremely effective and provides young people with skills and models that will last a lifetime. They are readily transferable to home, community, the workplace etc.

How do you do it:

A whole school approach is used. A workshop takes place to train all the teachers. They then train their students in a seven part training course which covers relevant mediator skills e.g. active listening and communication. Mediators are then selected and rostered to work in the playground and sometimes in the classroom as well. All students are informed about the service. Mediators are indentified by special clothing. Children caught up in conflicts, including bullying, have the option of approaching a mediator or a teacher for help. If both parties are willing a mediation session takes place with students agreeing to not interrupt, tell the truth, suggest a resolution etc. 90% of time agreement reached and a contract signed.

Innovation:

It is innovative because it is a service offered by students for students. Its success depends on their ability to apply positive, constructive responses to conflict. It requires both the mediators and those in conflict to use good communication skills, to honour and respect the others involved, to empathise and to problem-solve collaboratively. Children (sometimes as young as 5 years of age) are quite capable of doing this and doing it well. It engenders an expectation that conflicts will be worked through together, that they can be learning experiences. It provides children with essential social literacy skills. Since they are being used on a daily basis, in the provision of a practical service, this learning is internalised.

Impact
Impact:

The Cool School Peer Mediation Programme has been operating in New Zealand since 1991 and training has been provided to nearly two thirds of our schools nationwide. The changes achieved in many of those schools demonstrate that there has indeed been a systemic change within those schools relating to the handling of conflict, non-tolerance of violence etc. This has in turn fostered a much more peaceful learning environment. There are many clusters of schools in regions of new Zealand where primary, intermediate and secondary schools all use this programme so that a student can go into the school system at 5 and emerge at 18 having been in schools where Cool Schools operates and mediation is expected and regarded as the norm.

Ethical Action:

School had finished and there was a queue at the bus stop with children waiting to go home. A fight broke out and a teacher stepped in to sort out the problem. However, a Cool Schools mediator was also there. He introduced himself as a mediator. He asked if the children involved wanted mediation and when they said they did, he assisted them through a successful session. They came up with a resolution that they could both live with. The teacher was not needed, the problem was sorted out and the mediator was 5 years of age! Having 5 year old children taking this sort of action is exceptional however it certainly represents "positive and welcome change" as does the bully who became a first class mediator and stopped bullying.

Replication:

Cool Schools is already being used in other countries, including Australia. A pilot is being run in Pakistan and we are hoping to make it available to some Pacific Island nations. Thorough training is given to suitably qualified teachers who are then able to train other trainers and conduct workshops for teachers. Supporting resources, e.g. training manuals, videos and Co- ordinators' workbooks, are also made available to ensure programmes are as well supported as possible.

Sustainability
Sustainability:

The changes brought about amongst children who are part of the Cool Schools Peer Mediation programme are infinitely sustainable because the skills, attitudes, understandings and expectations become a part of the child. They are using, or witnessing the use of these non-violent responses to conflict on a daily basis and become part of their internalised repertoire of behaviours. They also experience the satisfaction of helping or being helped which enhances their feelings of self-worth. This too adds to their desire to continue to use the life skills they have acquired.

Organization Size:

The Peace Foundation is a relatively small agency that has been in existence for 30 years. Employees - full time 4, part-time in office 7, trainers in the field 17,volunteers 20. 12