Secondary Schools

Secondary Schools

Youth Resolving Conflict

The Youth Resolving Conflict (YRC) project aims to develop the skills and abilities of teenagers to respond to conflict in a constructive way. For most young people conflict both on and offline is an inevitable, sometimes exciting, and often painful and destructive part of life. CRESST believes that these young people are capable of learning and practicing skills that enable them to explore and engage positively with conflict and to find their own positive resolutions.

The intense growth and change that teenagers experience during this challenging developmental phase of life makes these life-skills both highly valuable, and immensely empowering.

This is a crucial time to develop teenagers’ communication skills. The use of social media has exploded meaning disputes can spiral quickly out of control. Breakdowns in communication filter back into the schoolyard and classroom. Conflict often negatively impacts on students’ emotional health and wellbeing and on their ability to focus in lessons and meet their learning potential.

Too much teacher and support staff time is spent implementing disciplinary procedures, resulting in loss of learning time, students feeling unsafe at school, and for some students, even temporary or permanent exclusion.

After receiving our training schools have reported:

  • Staff feel better equipped to effectively resolve conflict so that significantly less harm is caused
  • Student mediators are more confident, with improved speaking and listening skills
  • Training sessions were engaging, fun, challenging and thought-provoking​
  • Students feel empowered to run a mediation scheme and gain valuable transferable skills

Schools with active mediation schemes claim:

  • Teachers and support staff spend less time talking to or disciplining students after conflict occurs
  • The atmosphere in school is calmer and more harmonious
  • Students know where to go for help when they fall out
  • Young people often feel happier talking to older students than to adults

The YRC programme can be a core element of a school’s delivery of the SMSC curriculum, can be delivered through many cross-curricular routes and contributes significantly to Ofsted inspection criteria for personal development, behaviour and welfare, as well as actively promoting ‘British Values’.

For more information about our YRC programme please click on the links below

Implementing a whole school approach typically involves several elements:

Based on the particular needs of the school CRESST will provide bespoke introductory resolution training to all students in the second highest year group (Y10 or Y12)
Following this students are invited to apply to become volunteer student mediators providing facilitated conversations for the younger students at the school.

Typically around 30 successful applicants are given 2 days of intensive, interactive mediation training to give them the confidence and skills they need to establish and run a student-led mediation scheme within the school. These students then organise a rota, volunteer usually one lunchtime a week and help promote the scheme among students and staff.

All Y7 pupils receive workshops in conflict resolution skills, exploring their own reactions to conflict and learning techniques to help them move from ‘reacting’ to ‘responding’
All relevant staff receive training in conflict resolution skills and approaches, to ensure that ensures everyone within the school understands, reinforces and makes full use of the mediation scheme.

Briefings for governors and parent workshops contribute to a consistent whole school approach.

Detailed training materials and a handbook for the Student Mediator Coordinator are provided so that the school is able to sustain the scheme in future years, or has the opportunity to continue the partnership with CRESST.

CRESST undertakes evaluation visits of each school we have worked in and co-produces a case study demonstrating impact.

Youth Resolving Conflict – new projects:

A series of 8 sessions for around 15 students whose behaviour is having a significant negative impact on their own and/or others’ learning or who could be described as being ‘attracted to conflict’. Delivered by an experienced trainer, this inclusion programme has been developed at two of our YRC schools. The programme of sessions will be tailored to the needs of the specific students involved. In one school the students devised scripted and performed a drama piece that resulted in a short film that can be used to promote the mediation scheme.

Targeted support for students to address disputes fuelled by social media that affects their learning and relationships in school

Teenage girls report that most of the conflict they experience occurs or escalates online. The clashes come to a head in school where tensions erupt and friendships fracture, having a negative effect on students’ wellbeing and ability to focus in lessons. The damage is often far worse because the use of social media has led to the involvement of whole friendship groups, meaning many other young people are affected.

Handling  online conflict 

CRESST are now offering 6-8 weekly sessions for girls on how to handle conflict that has an online element to it.
The sessions stem from a short film produced with one of our Youth Resolving Conflict (YRC) schools after a real-life explosive online row was de-escalated using the CRESST mediation techniques.
Students will take part in engaging activities based on our tool-kit of mediation and conflict resolution skills and informed by research into the causes, types and impact of online conflict and strategies for handling online clashes when they occur.

Session aims:

Solidarity: showing young women the wider social context to the conflict they experience. Enabling them to understand that the pressures they face are not unique, and the complex social and media-based forces shaping the ways they relate to the world
Strategies: providing a range of methods for dealing with the conflict that inevitably occurs, based on our tried and tested mediation process, restorative approaches, mindfulness activities and communication techniques
Resilience: empowering girls to respond to conflict creatively through an increased understanding of their own role in it, and of how to deal with the discomfort it causes and make difficult choices.
Sessions include thought-provoking activities, time for practise, and reflection on the previous week.

Sample session content

  1. The wider social conflict – exploring the pressures that girls experience from friends, family, school, society and the media. How are they personally affected?
  2. Inner conflict – using mindfulness techniques to increase students’ awareness of their own responses to conflict and develop their ability to pause, and choose their responses creatively
  3. Outer conflict – learning strategies for handling conflict when it occurs, either in person or online. What really helps? What makes it worse? Students will learn and practise a range of techniques based on our mediation process, communication skills, and restorative approaches.
  4. Reflection and taking it forward – student will reflect on their own learning so far, and on a short film of a conflict between girls at another school to come up with realistic ideas for taking this forward in their own lives.
  5. Practice & project planning – A chance to practise their skills and plan a project for taking some of their learning back to the school community. What have they learned that might benefit others? How could this be presented?
  6. Sessions 6-8: Projects – The final session/s will involve students creating their own project to take their learning forwards, with the help of CRESST trainers and other organisations. This may include making a film with professional filmmakers, setting up a mediation scheme within school, or creating other resources for younger students or the wider community.


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