Quakers urge government to back peer mediation

By agency reporter
February 13, 2016

The Peer Mediation Network has called on Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, to take steps to promote the comprehensive provision of conflict resolution education in schools.

The Network, which includes Quakers in Britain, wrote an open letter to the Secretary of State. It points out that, “Funding and government support for mediation and restorative approaches in schools has been variable, making provision haphazard. ?It is time for this to change."

The Network asserts that young people grapple with conflict all the time, yet little is done to provide the relevant skills to handle it positively. The United Nations has urged the UK government to strengthen peace education.

Quakers have been led to support peer mediation in Britain for decades, fostering projects like Peacemakers in the West Midlands and Conflict Resolution Education in Sheffield Schools Training (CRESST) in South Yorkshire. This kind of provision remains uneven around the country. While government recognises that conflict is part of life, schools need more support to help young people develop the skills to deal with it.

Peer mediation is conflict resolution for young people by young people. Trained in the same process used to help resolve industrial disputes, international relations and family breakdown, students mediate problems to find win-win solutions. They develop excellent life skills including active listening, cooperation and problem-solving.

It's made it a safer place and there aren't so many arguments because if an argument starts it's more likely to get sorted out quicker and we've got better lessons because the lessons aren't taken up by teachers trying to sort out what happened at playtimes" ,said a Year 6 Primary School pupil.

“Young people respond brilliantly to the training," said Isabel Cartwright, Peace Education Programme Manager for Quakers in Britain. “They see the need for truth and fairness in their interactions and the value of a safe space to sort things out. But often schools are not supported to provide that space."

Quakers' commitment to peer mediation is in line with their 350-year history of working for peace and nonviolence.

* Read the Peer Mediation Network letter here

* Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

*Quakers in Britain http://www.quaker.org.uk/

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