Balaklava High School
Restorative Practice

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About this Profile

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Sonia Pringle's picture
Sonia Pringle

Profile source: An interview on behalf of the NED Foundation.

Interviewee: Sonia Pringle
Interviewee role:
  • School - Principal

About the Organisation

Field of Interest: 

Sonia's philosophy of education is based on relationships; with staff, students, their families and the broader community and the need to work together to achieve positive outcomes. The Restorative Practice concepts fit perfectly with this. It is well known that students work for teachers, not for subjects, so relationships are vital for learning and underpin just about every aspect of what happens at Balaklava High School.

Restorative Practice has a key role to play in establishing and maintaining relationships with young people and their families whilst being vital in repairing harm and restoring relationships when they breakdown. The team at Balaklava High School have worked to skill their students in this framework as it is an opportunity to give their young people real life skills that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. The school also works with families to give them an understanding of the framework so they can implement it in their own homes as well.

Part of the process of implementing the Restorative Principles at Balaklava High School involved reviewing the student behaviour management policy and changing it to be one of behaviour support, which highlights the benefits a student gains from doing the right thing and doesn't only focus on how to respond to negative behaviours. One change to the Behaviour Support Policy now requires students and teachers meeting for a restorative conversation if students are sent out of class, which allows both parties to have their say, hear the other side and agree on a path forward. 


When Sonia first arrived at Balaklava High School as Principal in 2019 there was a great deal of violent and unhealthy behaviour in the school yard which resulted in poor school culture that affected students, staff, parents and involved local sporting clubs and required police involvement.

Much of the issues in the school yard stemmed from outside of the school, however, unfortunately, as over seventy percent of students travel to the school by bus the school yard became the only place that they were physically together at the same time and tensions were erupting daily.

It was apparent to Sonia that something different was needed to break this poor culture and the implementation of Restorative Practice ultimately became the vehicle that did this.

Sonia initially undertook a three day training program with Kerrie Sellen of Restorative Journeys, which profoundly moved her as she could see that this was exactly what the school needed. The South Australian Department for Education supported Sonia's plan and, along with the Department for Human Services, they provided funding for the initial three day training for a number of teachers from Balaklava High and a teacher from each of the surrounding feeder schools.

After that initial training all staff, including support staff and relief teachers undertook a one day training course with Kerrie and the school also has her return each year to deliver a training session with the Year 6 students from feeder primary schools so they understand the principles of the Restorative Practice ethos of the school they will be attending the following year before they enrol there.

Brings to the Discussion: 

Sonia says Restorative Practice is so much more than a framework, it's a way of being. Those at Balaklava High School live the values and the framework of the philosophy of Restorative Practice and it has become part of the fabric of the school.

Additional Information: 

Sonia believes the introduction of Restorative Practices is what has turned the school around. It has resulted in the difference in the culture of the school and is instrumental in how people now see the school. The school has had consistently increasing enrolments, high staff retention and has a reputation for providing quality individualised education for its students.

Organisational Structure: 
  • Government School
  • School
Services Offered: 
  • Advocacy
  • ATSI health and well being
  • Community Development/Education 
  • Counselling
  • Culture change
  • Group based relationship education
  • Leadership development
  • Peer support services
  • Program development
  • Restorative Circles
  • Restorative Conferencing
  • Restorative Practice meetings
  • Rights of people with disabilities
  • Rights of those experiencing mental ill health
  • Schools 7-12
  • Workplace Conferencing

Organisation Location and Reach

Balaklava , SA, 5461
Area Covered: 
Local Area