The Workforce

How to create relational education

Looking for ways to create relational education for young people? Here you will find some tips and advice on how to be relational in an education setting.

Relational educations is an emphasis on adding values to education, by fostering learning, enhancing student’s participation and enriching the relational process itself. There are three main components to the relational model, Developing Relationships, Responding and Calming and Repairing and Restoring. Due to situations out of their control, many young people with care experience face challenges that can become barriers for them to succeed. With the right support and provisions we can keep young people engaged with learning and participating in their community. Everyone needs to feel safe, cared for and have a sense of belonging for us to be able to participate fully. Unfortunately, for some young people their behaviour within school institutions can be difficult and they can be labelled “bad” and punished rather than supported to understand their own moods and actions. Punitive approaches and exclusion may re-traumatise young people with care experience and further embed the behaviours causing concern. Attempting to understand individual behaviours through a Relational, regulatory and restorative approaches are more effective in supporting the development of internal control and regulation. Not all behaviours are a matter of choice and therefore external control will not be effective in changing behaviour.

A quick overview of the relational model –

Developing relationships:

  • Building Relationships - Developing safety, security and trust through protection, connection, understanding and care
  • Supporting Inclusion - Facilitating access to learning, ensuring social inclusion and developing individual skills
  • Setting Boundaries - Reaching agreements and building a shared understanding of expectations.
  • Establishing clear processes - for resolving difficulties.

Responding and calming:

  • Keeping Calm - Using everyday interactions to maintain relationships and agreements and promote a calm and supportive learning environment
  • Regulating Emotions - Using key relational skills to regulate strong emotions and calm behaviour
  • Managing Crisis - Having clear plans to ensure safety and support.

Repairing and restoring:

  • Resolving Conflict - Everyday restorative interactions to resolve minor conflict and disagreements and create a shared understanding.
  • Repairing Harm -Restorative encounters to discuss the breaking of agreements, the impact (consequences) on others and to restore relationships.
  • Supporting Change: What additional support / action is needed

Embedding relational practice within schools requires a whole school approach. This should involve:

  • Establishing consistent thinking, understanding and beliefs and values across all school staff, parents/ carers and partner agencies.
  • Whole staff training, continual professional development and induction for new staff in relational theory and practice. Ongoing staff support through regular meetings and individual supervision and coaching to support the development and maintenance of skills.
  • The consistent implementation of relational practice by all staff which is supported through clear systems and processes as well as active support and modelling by line mangers and senior leaders.
  • Systems and provision to support a clear graduated response to supporting children’s needs which is child centred and involves parents and external agencies.

This is only a quick overview and cannot provide an in-depth understanding of the relational model – you can read up more on this model in the links below.

Here is a document that has great information on the importance and benefits of relational based-practice within education settings and is the main source of information for this guide.

You can also read more on relational approaches through the Scottish governments better relationships, better learning policy guidance here.

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