As news of local, national and international conflict dominate our headlines, children and young people across the country are showing the adults how to conflicts can be resolved through listening and empathy. Peer mediators are trained to mediate between two people who have fallen out and find win-win solutions.
Learning is not disrupted, lunchtimes are a happier time and it seems to have an overall all-round effect on the school
The popularity of these schemes are shared by teachers and children alike. In one school, a teacher commented that, since the introduction of peer mediation, "Learning is not disrupted, lunchtimes are a happier time and it seems to have an overall all-round effect on the school".
Training with children in both primary and secondary schools is usually anything between two and five days. It aims to ensure that they are skilled and confident in creating space for disputants to listen and be listened to, before working on a way forward. Studies have shown that the training can lead to a substantial increase in the academic attainment and self-esteem of mediators.
Children who have been trained as peer mediators have made comments like "I feel really confident in handling conflict in my own life, inside or outside of school", "I think I have become a better listener" and "I feel more confident that I will be able to handle any conflict at secondary school".
I feel really confident in handling conflict in my own life, inside or outside of school.
Peer mediation has often been pioneered in schools by organisations with strong Quaker involvement such as Peacemakers in Birmingham and the Mid Wales Peace Project.
Peer mediation training
Thanks to a grant from Sir James Reckitt Charitable Trust, I have recently taken up the role as Peer Mediation National Coordinator. My role means I am currently able to provide support and training to teachers and anyone else who would like to support their local schools by offering this training to children. I have previously done work with CRESST based in Sheffield, who have been offering peer mediation training since 2004.
I have seen first hand the impact peer mediation makes on children and their school communities. It's exciting to be able to facilitate more people having the skills and confidence to deliver this wherever they are. I'd love to grow the network of trainers so that every school in the country can access peer mediation.
There are currently four train the trainer events (PDF) planned in the new year. Teachers in the Highlands can also register on this course we are offering on 9 December in partnership with the Educational Institute of Scotland. Bookings for these events are now open, and anyone interested in the training can contact me on email@example.com