COLESHILL Heath School in Solihull is one of only six schools in the UK to feature in a series of short films by Quakers in Britain highlighting the importance of peace education.
Peacemakers, the West Midlands Quaker Peace Education project which has been helping schools handle conflict for over 30 years, is supporting the school to establish a peer mediation scheme.
Peer mediation is conflict resolution by young people, for young people.
Once trained the young mediators help children resolve their disputes at playtimes.
Key to this is young people learning to take responsibility.
The five-minute film, ‘Training to be Peacemakers’, shows Jackie Zammit, programme director at Birmingham-based Peacemakers, helping the young mediators explore their understanding of peace and conflict.
They study ‘the conflict escalator’ and practice how to calm conflict down by ‘taking out blaming language’ from the stories they hear.
“The change I’m hoping to see is developing children’s confidence to know that they have choices when they’re in difficult situations,” said Jackie.
“The answers to problems are in themselves, and not necessarily in adults.”
Isabel Cartwright from Quakers in Britain, who visited the school with Speakit Films, said that peer mediators, who work in hundreds of primary and secondary schools across the country – and around the world – are an effective way of tackling conflicts, reducing exclusions and increasing empathy, trust and respect.
“Every school could benefit from peer mediation,” said Jackie. “If you’re motivated by peace, if you believe in peace, if you’re not ashamed to talk about peace…that’s when transformation can happen.”
Quakers believe schools can do more than ‘keep the peace’: everyone can be peacemakers, transforming conflict, and peacebuilders, non-violently confronting injustice.
The videos from Quakers in Britain are building up to the release of a new report Peace at the Heart: a relational approach to education in British schools, to be launched 11 May 2022.