Cool Schools is a peer mediation programme developed by the Foundation for Peace Studies that has been adopted by many schools in New Zealand.
Its philosophy is based on conflict being seen as something that can be handled positively and learnt from, without using violence.
It encourages us to learn about situations of conflict, and how to change them from experiences many of us would rather avoid or ignore into experiences to help us grow and learn. It helps us develop problem-solving approaches to conflict rather than denial or aggression.
Cool Schools is part of our school’s health syllabus, and is taught in classrooms each year. To supplement and reinforce the learning which occurs in the classroom, each year a team of children are trained in conflict resolution skills and are appointed as peer mediators within the school.
Mediators are on duty in pairs in the playground every lunchtime, and are available for children to approach to help them resolve any conflicts they have been unable to sort out for themselves.
Mediators meet regularly with the coordinator for ongoing feedback and training.
The Mediation Process
1. Children approach the mediators if they would like help solving their disagreement.
2. Mediators remind children of the four rules of mediation –
• No interruptions
• No name-calling or put downs
• Be as honest as you can
• Agree to solve the problem
3. Each child gets an opportunity to tell their side of the story, and how they feel about what has happened. Children are reminded and encouraged to use “I feel” statements. The mediator will paraphrase after each child has spoken.
4. Each child is then asked what they need to happen to solve the problem. The mediator will explore various choices with them.
5. Children agree on a win-win solution and understand what they need to do and when. Children are congratulated and asked to shake hands.
6. Details are recorded in a book with a check back time to ensure everything is going smoothly.
Any disputes or incidents which cannot be dealt with by mediators are referred to a teacher on duty for resolution.