Saturday, February 29th, 2020

Charity helps train primary school pupils in Peer Mediation to help resolve playground disputes without teachers getting involved

Sevenoaks-based West Kent Mediation is an independent charity which offers a free, professional, confidential and impartial mediation service to help resolve conflicts and the breakdown of relationships between individuals, organisations and groups. Here the organisation explains how they work with local primary schools to train pupils in Peer Mediation skills

Conflict is something we all face. It is there in our friendships, families, neighbourhood, work life and school. West Kent Mediation (WKM) is a charity which offers an impartial mediation service to support you in resolving many kinds of conflicts. Part of their work is training children in local primary schools in peer mediation skills.

In Peer Mediation the children are trained to act as mediators in minor playground disputes without help from teachers.  This empowers children and develops their sense of community and co-operation.  The school and classroom become more peaceful, allowing more teaching and learning to take place.

Peer Mediation takes place in a structured and safe environment with adult supervision nearby and always requires the participation of two peer mediators.  Peers mediators deal with low-level disputes and always refer to school staff when a situation becomes too complex for them to handle. The training involves working with Years 5 & 6. WKM’s Schools Co-ordinator leads a discussion about mediation, what skills are needed and how mediation works. The children brainstorm conflicts and share how they are resolved.

The whole year group work through role plays involving listening skills and body language. Co-operative games are played to help children find solutions to problems. The morning ends with an imaginary mediation between two children who have had a dispute.

Twelve volunteers are then chosen for a day’s training to become mediators. During the training students are taught skills such as listening, open ended questioning, recognising feelings, the differences between facts and feelings, summarising, co-operative working, empathy, how to recognise bullying, impartiality, why not to give advice and confidentiality.

The children practice communication skills, play team games and discuss ‘red flag’ areas. During the afternoon they practice mediation skills using imaginary disputes. Focus is on listening to other’s views, being impartial and finding a ‘win-win’ solution to the conflict.

The scheme promotes an ethos of problem solving co-operation, it raises self-esteem and self confidence in students, it helps them develop empathy and valuing other people’s points of view, it opens discussion on bullying and how this can be dealt with, it promotes equal opportunities because everyone is respected, and gives pupils ownership of their resolution of disputes. In this day and age, when mental health issues are very much at the forefront of our minds, we want our children to have the tools to deal with conflict as it arises, and as a result develop resilience when faced with these challenges

Important life skills are developed in a fun and relaxed setting which have a very positive impact on the day to day running of a primary school and we can think of no better investment in the future than to help the next generation deal with conflict in a better and more constructive way

For more information on Peer Mediation and the courses run by West Kent Mediation , contact the Schools Co-ordinator Dorothy Walkington by emailing: dorothy@wkm.org.uk

More information on the West Kent Mediation website at: wkm.org.uk

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