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Peer Mediation

What is Peer Mediation?

Peer Mediation is when a young person is trained as a mediator, usually within an educational setting, and then mediates conflicts that two other young people have, often at school break and lunchtimes. Peer Mediators usually resolve conflict for other children and young people the same age or younger than them.

Other expressions of peer mediation are Young Mediators or Restorative Champions who work in similar way in the school using Restorative Justice principles.

Conflict resolution for young people by young people.

Smiling boy sitting on the floor amongst other children having a discussion

How does Peer Mediation work?

What are the steps or stages of Peer Mediation? For example establishing a program at a school, training mediators, mediation conflicts. A school hears about Peer Mediation and decides that it wants to give its young people the experience of mediation as a way to solve their problems and help with their conflicts and to train some of their young people to offer this. So how do you set up a Peer Mediation Scheme in a school?

How can you find a Training Provider?

You probably need some help the first time you are doing this, so finding a provider of quality peer mediation training is the first step. Use the search function on these pages to search in your area or google Peer Mediation training.

Is your school ready for mediation?

Is the school ready for mediation? Is there a space that can be put aside for confidential mediation – that has an adult(s) nearby? Is there adequate time for the training? Is there an staff member who can be the mediator lead in the school, looking after the mediators, meeting them regularly and doing top-up training?

Which students will be the mediators?

In a primary setting, mediators are commonly drawn from Year 5 and mediate for a year. This means that in Year 6 they can help train and prepare the new cohort of mediators. However, years 4,5 and 6 have all been trained successfully in the past, including in mixed year group combinations.

In an average size primary school, you might train 24 students to work in pairs on a rota. In a secondary school there is much more variation. We know of schemes where Year 8 students mediate for Year 7s, where some of the 6th Form are trained to mediate for young people from the lower year groups and still others where there are mediators drawn from each year group, mediating for the year below.

What preparatory work needs to be done with the students?

Students need to find out what is involved in peer mediation in order to know whether they want to or are suited to mediate. Most training providers will give you materials to run some sessions with a whole year group on conflict and mediation, covering what qualities does a mediator need and what is involved.

How do you choose the potential mediators?

Different providers may suggest different methods to choose the potential mediators, it is usually either an election process or an appointment process. Listening is a key skill for mediation, so in many settings quieter children have done very well in mediation roles and having the role has resulted in a growth in their confidence.

How do you train Peer Mediators?

Three days training is good practice for new mediators, depending on how much preparatory work has taken place. During the training the provider will build the sense of team among the mediators and develop skills of mediation such as listening, questioning, removing the blame, encouraging problem solving etc.

They will also learn the stages of mediation, the promises of mediators and what situations are suitable for them to mediate and what needs to go to an adult in the school. Finally they will learn how to cope with difficulties that arise in mediation.

What does it mean to choose to be a mediator?

At the end of the training, the young people are asked if they want to be a mediator in their school and the trainers will give feedback from having assessed the young people in the role plays of mediation who is ready and who might need further support. It is an important principle of all mediation that it is voluntary and this applies to being a mediator as well as taking part in a mediation.

How can you get the staff on board?

This is important from the beginning of course, but once the mediators are being trained staff need to be aware and informed about the scheme and how it works. This crucially includes lunchtime supervisors, who are often involved in a part of the mediation training so they can see how it works and trust the young people to be able to carry out their roles. A session at a staff meeting is also an excellent way to make sure that everyone knows about and can encourage use of the scheme.

How can you publicise the scheme?

This will normally form part of the training, but thought needs to be given to how students will learn of the scheme and be encouraged to use it. Young people are usually full of ideas of how to do this including assemblies, posters, going class to class to talk about it etc.

How can you get going?

This includes setting the rota for when mediators will be on duty, getting them some form of identification such as badges or tabards, setting up regular meetings with the mediators to check in with them and trouble shoot.

How do you evaluate the programme?

Keeping records of what happens, evaluating outcomes with mediators, disputants and staff.

What are the impacts of Peer Mediation?

Peer Mediation has a profound impact for the wellbeing of students seeking help, for staff teaching in peaceful classrooms, and the mediators themselves practicing a lifetime skill. In short, the whole community benefits.

•  Staff spend less time responding to incidents during and after lunch.

•  Staff have a greater understanding of students’ experiences and relationships.

•  Improved student behaviour and opportunities for classroom dialogue.

•  Children develop confidence as well as social and communication skills for life.

•  Children experience the satisfaction of helping their peers.

•  Children have an opportunity to resolve conflicts independently instead of relying on adults.

•  Children have their point of view heard and understood.

•  Children get the chance to find a solution that works for them.

•  There is a more peaceful school environment for everyone.

•  Schools consistently report that mediation appreciably reduces the amount of staff-time responding to student conflicts, while the mediators themselves enjoy the responsibility. 

Peer Mediation success stories

John of Rolleston Primary School

Peace is on the curriculum at John of Rolleston primary School in Staffordshire. Headteacher: It is a really busy curriculum, but you have to decide what you want and our school is led by a very strong set of values ….all about developing our young people. Peace is essential so a happy safe environment is the foundational bedrock of our curriculum. It means that every child can come to school everyday and enjoy the learning that takes place so we have to find space for it.
– Richard Simcox, Head teacher

The school makes use a wide variety of sports, circle time and a peer mediation so that children learn to respond to conflict. Pupils are friendly, welcoming and get on with one another very well. They take their roles as health and safety monitors and peer mediators very seriously and carry out their duties in a quiet and mature manner.

Drawing on training from Peacemakers in Birmingham, Samantha Duda-Spencer, a teacher at John of Rolleston Primary School in Burton-on-Trent, uses regular circle time sessions to support her students to handle conflict well: “Initially I was really sceptical of it; I thought, No, this is not going to work with seven- and eight-year-olds, talking about peace! But actually, just within the space of a few weeks [of] regular circle times […] they were able to discuss what their conflict was, what their arguments were, and they had some strategies to be able to solve those. They are going to be our citizens of the future and they will need to know how to manage conflicts, how to work together, how to be resilient, how to support and listen, and actually, teaching them from an early age, really does do that.” Simcox says, “All children had the opportunity to learn peace building skills, to take part in a curriculum that was led by peace, we would have a more peaceful society. We wouldn’t necessarily have less conflict, but we would have better ways of addressing that conflict.”

Peer Mediation at Bacon’s College

Bacon’s College in Southwark College works closely with CALM Mediation to equip Sixth Form students with conflict resolution skills. A peer mediation scheme scheme has operated over a decade, thriving due to the support from professional mediators who provide training and regular supervision was available.

“I’ve learnt invaluable skill for life… Why doesn’t every school have peer mediation”
– Kezia Herzog, Sixth Form mediator

The inner city secondary academy is rated by OFSTED as ‘outstanding’ for ‘behaviour and safety of pupils’ and saw a significant reduction in school exclusions in recent years. The peer mediators, aged 16-19, have a high profile in the school and help other students address challenging issues including name-calling, bullying and fights. Some join adult mediators working in the community.

A former Peer mediator, Bode Adeloye, won Community Mediator of the year award in 2021, having first started mediating in school at the age of 16. Even when he was at school he joined our adult mediators working in the community which he still does now.

Other alumni have spoken in Parliament and national Mediation Conferences.