In 2004, the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) established a project to pilot restorative practices (RPs) in schools in three local authorities (LAs) in Scotland. The pilot project was one strand of the Scottish Executive's range of initiatives to promote Better Behaviour Better Learning in Scottish schools and was to run from 2004 to 2006. In parallel with the pilot project, SEED commissioned a team from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow to evaluate the initiative. That evaluation was collaborative and flexible and took account of differences between the eighteen pilot schools and also of the varying aims schools had in implementing RPs. This paper will draw on data emerging from the evaluation to compare and contrast the experiences of schools as they tried to work in ways which were more restorative and less punitive. The first part of this paper will define RPs and will discuss the nature and distinctiveness of these approaches as they have been used in different settings. The paper will then examine RPs in relation to the experience of schools in the Scottish pilot. Did successful implementation depend upon the existing ethos of the school? Or were RPs themselves a vehicle by which schools could develop a more positive ethos? Three case studies in implementing RPs will be offered. These will be used to exemplify how some schools
-changed their practices as a result of implementing RPs
-incorporated RPs into existing practices
-did not change at all
These varying experiences of the case study schools will be used to probe notions of restorative and retributive approaches in relation to school ethos. Finally, the paper will explore the capacity of RPs to transform school ethos and, in general, will consider the conditions necessary for this to happen.