School mediation experiences at the OME conference

The National Mediation Association's May 2018 conference was about the state and practices of mediation in schools. Representatives of Partners Hungary were present not only as participants, but also as invited guests, as we have been working with mediation in various educational institutions, with school professionals and students since 2009. A summary of the presentations given in the morning of the conference. Experiences of school mediation in Italy Carmela Cavallo, member of GEMME (Groupement Européen [...]

The National Mediation Association's May 2018 conference was about the state and practices of mediation in schools. Representatives of Partners Hungary were present not only as participants, but also as invited guests, as we have been working with mediation in various educational institutions, with school professionals and students since 2009.


A summary of the presentations from the morning of the conference.

  1. The experience of school mediation in Italy
    Carmela Cavallo, President of the Italian Section of GEMME (Groupement Européen des Magistrats pour la Médiation)

Motto: "The mediator aims to sew together the fabrics that have been torn along the school conflict."

  • School is the place where we learn how to communicate with others, where we can learn how to accept differences, so it is important to set a good example.
  • The educational principles of school and family differ, and this often leads to conflict, with families complaining a lot, e.g. of overwork, aggression.
  • In often changing circumstances, adults are often uncertain about setting boundaries, which is also a source of conflict.
  • In schools, aggression (the abuse of power and force) is felt at an earlier and earlier stage of life.
  • In the old days, the teacher was seen as a judge, but today that would no longer be accepted, which is why a mediator is needed.
  • Typical mediation is between two students or between groups of students, which may include facilitators from the class. Large groups require a lot of experience on the part of the mediator.

Mediation: how, by what methods?

  • At the beginning of the mediation, everyone tells their version of events, and the mediation starts.
  • Part of the meeting is a briefing, the rules are laid down, among which confidentiality is highlighted.
  • The mediator makes the parties aware that they have skills they may not have known they had because they were so preoccupied with the conflict.
  • It is worth focusing on topics that indicate a common position, which will help to start the conversation (e.g. music, sports.)
  • After mediation, the parties are usually supported with follow-up.

What is mediation good for?

  • Reducing early school leaving,
  • The number of harassment cases is falling,
  • It can help you to accept difference,
  • It boosts self-esteem (if someone is being bullied, it is easy to be a bully elsewhere),
  • Self-criticism is an opportunity to practice and accept the opinions of others, which can be learned here,
  • Anger can be controlled, it can be taken outside the mediation space,
  • Reducing the number of school suspensions.
  • Digital bullying is a big problem and teachers are not prepared for it.
  • The school venue for mediation: a separate room in the school.
  • The school mediator can also act between teachers and in family matters.

The programme referred to by the rapporteur was funded by the Commissioner for Children's Rights (if this is not available in your country, you should apply for EU funding).

The project involved 2 mediation organisations, GEMME and an organisation dealing with criminal mediation. They trained their own mediators. Schools were invited to apply to participate in the programme.

  • The aim was to have a mediator in each school who could be contacted in case of conflict. As a consequence, there is a mediator in the school 1 time a week, when you can turn to him/her. At the beginning, an external mediator was used, but since the training, an internal mediator has been used.
  • They spread the word about mediation with leaflets. The reality of having a mediator in every county, school by school, may not be feasible today.
  • At the end of the programme, after a year, an impact assessment is planned, after which it will be a question of who will finance the mediation: the municipality, the region or an EU grant.

In the Rome Court: a mediation window was introduced in child custody cases, 30% of clients used it and 25% of clients reached an agreement.


  1. The education dispute system and its management, the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) framework

Presentation by András Krémer


  • The diversity of cases in education
  • How can we build a system where clients can find mediation?
  • How are such systems created?
  • Social traditions
  • Policy developments
  • Organisational cultures

In education disputes, there are conflicts of interest, fights, exclusion, mobbing, conflict between different stakeholders. It is still the case that in serious conflicts in schools, it is still not evident that the parties involved should go to a mediator.

Human rights and justice are important, and mediation could play a role in this.

Where do we start in the educational arena, what is the current situation?

  • authoritarian social, institutional, leadership traditions
  • Prussian educational traditions
  • lack of trust in the formal resolution of disputes
  • lack of capacity, "we don't have time"
  • AVR is considered high risk (cost, time)
  • lack of skills, experience
  • gaps in training of professionals (no AVR training in teacher training, law, management training)

Social traditions, patterns

  • the child is the "property of the family" (domestic violence - Istanbul Convention)
  • workplace patterns, strong vulnerabilities - metoo, diminishing rights to strike
  • education regulation - institutional centralisation
  • AVR: retiring state involvement (MKDSZ, OKSZ, EC mediation, Authority mediation)
  • workplace characteristics - servilism, dependencies

Note: EMMI - Implementation of the Digital Strategy for Child Protection from 2017: there is a regulation - professionals are scarce - information is scarce for teachers and managers.

The National Crime Prevention Council has been training mediation teachers since 2014, with the aim of having a mediator in every school.

For the purposes of school alternatives question

  • do leaders have room for manoeuvre?
  • is the alternative route included in the policy?
  • is there a willingness to negotiate?
  • making it difficult to advocate (non-response, depression, crowding out of civilians)

Possible reasons for the lack of AVR

  • lack of knowledge
  • personal attitude
  • suggesting legislation - methods are not named
  • policy intentions
  • institutional weaknesses
  • lack of distraction mechanisms

Elements (gaps or requirements) for building the system

  • little research, case analysis
  • lack of documentation of cases
  • mapping of actors would be necessary
  • selecting model sites - launching pilot projects
  • Design
  • communication inside and outside the system

Institutional level

  • case level - find case, transfer to AVR, service
  • case handling - lessons learned, protocol, routine
  • institutional processing level - organisational development, culture change, documentation, management feedback
  • system level - professional network, coordinated development, policy feedback

Mediators in the organisation - mediation in schools, challenges

  • the mediator must demonstrate success
  • independence in question
  • can professionalism be guaranteed in the job description?
  • work accounting, measurement, sharing
  • capacity, conditions
  • confidentiality, hierarchy
  • special rules
  • external mediators, mentors

In regulation

  • full coverage at once

Go to

  • networking mediators
  • strengthening the professional framework (membership of internal mediators?)
  • the need for pilot programmes


  1. The child as a stakeholder in the mediation process

Dr. Márta Gyengéné Nagy - European Association of Judges for Mediation (GEMME)

A broader and narrower understanding of participation in court proceedings.

Child protection approach: prevention - protection - child participation

Legal approach: place, voice, listening, impact - Lundy model

The child's participation is ensured if there is a guarantee of a safe environment:

  • if we know what to look for when we listen, as professionals,
  • we can decode what it says,
  • the extent to which your opinion has been taken into account in the decision-making process should be given to you as feedback (Lundy model)
  • ET's guidelines for practitioners strictly stipulate that it is not enough to provide a right (the technical part), but that due weight must be given to the opinion (New York Convention, within human rights there are + rights.)
  • It is the child's best interest and need that must be met. Age should not be the only criterion.
  • In court proceedings, the hearing can be direct or indirect.
  • Judicial guidelines on how to be heard/participate.

The judge may decide not to hear the child if it would harm him or her:

  • abuse
  • defencelessness
  • counter-nutrition
  • physical, psychological abuse
  • restrictions on freedom of expression.

Child-centred justice has become a principle. The court may appoint a child protection specialist, a case manager. The OBH website has interactive materials for children.

The way the child is heard is different for a judge and for mediation.

In neither case does the child decide, this should be stressed to the child, but their opinion can be listened to and their needs are important.

Confidentiality is important to give the child guarantees about how what they say is used.

In mediation, the parents' consent is required for the child to be heard.

  1. a child over the age of 18 must be involved, below which the mediator can exercise discretion.

In mediation, after listening to the child's views, the mediator can draw the parents' attention to the child's needs, but cannot interfere with the parents' decision.

In cross-border cases, it is compulsory to hear the child in mediation, with different age limits for each country. Hague Convention on the benefits and difficulties of mediation. The child must always know that it is not his/her responsibility to decide.

On the issue of child involvement, Márta referred to the draft professional recommendation "And whose interest is it?", which she recommends reading. It is the product of an informal working group set up by the Partners Hungary Foundation. If you are interested, please contact and we will send you the material.A 60-page technical paper is expected to be published in October 2018.


Other points concerned, comments

European Parliament Study 2014 - European Union Mediation Paradox - 2008/52/EP

György Gajduschek MTA TK JTK on legal culture transformation research.

Silent workshops for democracy - mediation in kindergartens.

Agnes Lux - best interest of the child, not best interest.

Family law 2018.1. no. How to say it so you understand it article. Informing the child about a judge's decision at the end of the trial, about the judgment, so that the child understands the judge's decision.

Informing children before and after the trial is important, and this should also be considered.

The presentation ended with a short film on child information.


In the afternoon panel discussion we talked about the experiences of mediation in schools in Hungary. Partners Hungary first trained teacher and student mediators in 2009 at the Polytechnic, and over the years we have trained around 250 school professionals (teachers, psychologists, social workers) in mediation.Since 2015, we have been running an Erasmus+ programme in 3 secondary schools in Szolnok, the details and professional materials of which are available at here you can read.


Budapest, 30 May 2018.

Kriszta Kukity

Partners Hungary Foundation



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