Our Social Contract

Our school is a place of learning.

It is a place where we treat each other with respect and honesty.

We work and play in a way that is safe and fair.

What is a School Social Contract?

Schools have rules, homes have rules, and nations have rules. Rules govern our behaviour – they state what we can or cannot do.

When you think about it, each rule has behind it a belief.

For instance, we have a rule or law regarding speeding because we believe our roads should be safe for other drivers and pedestrians. The belief is safety. Perhaps the belief behind a designated bed-time is health – we need a good night’s rest to be alert and focused the next day.

Schools and classrooms can have dozens and dozens of rules – some of them clearly identified such as “no throwing snowballs,” but others are less obvious such as “don’t move the picture from the wall.” Rules, however, are external controls on behaviour. Someone, or some list, is telling us what we can or cannot do.

A strength of the Restitution Self Disciple RSD approach is that it intends is to move our students relying less upon from external control and more to internal control.  Therefore, in the RSD approach, “doing the right thing” relies less on the rules, and more on the beliefs behind the rules. That is why, when you look at our Code of Conduct, our social contact is the foundation of the document.

The logic behind it is this. Our beliefs help guide our behaviour. If we believe in and value certain things, our behaviour will reflect those things. If I believe that safety of others is important, I will not throw snowballs where there are others in the area. If I value and believe in  responsibility, I will do my best to meet deadlines. My beliefs govern my choices, not a set of external rules.

Therefore, an important part of a school using the RSD approach is to create a school-wide social contract. A social contract is an agreement between members of a group – in this case members of our school community. It identifies how we want to be treated, and how we will treat others.  For example, when I am with others, I expect to be listened to, but it is my obligation to listen to others.

The social contract extends to all those who enter our school – students, staff, parents, and visitors.

Our school’s social contract was developed in 2007. At that time, students, staff, and parents were asked to identify words that describe how we want to be with each other when we are in our school. A list of words and ideas ranging from safety to integrity was generated.

In order to reduce the list, individual words were written on poster paper, and these were posted to the halls in the school. Students, staff, and parted were each given five sticky dots and were asked to place one dot on what they thought were the five most important ideas or words.

In the end the following words were received the most support (quite overwhelmingly):

  • respect
  • safety
  • learning
  • honesty
  • fairness

Those five words were then put into a statement which has become our school’s social contract and reads as follows:

Our school is a place of learning.

It is a place where we treat each other with respect and honesty.

We work and play in a way that is safe and fair.