Time: 20-30 minutes.

Learning objectives:

  • to create an open and space space where everyone feels comfortable to take part
  • to establish a set of ground rules for inclusive participation.

Core skills:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Communication and collaboration.

It is important to create an open and safe space for well-being so that positive relationships between pupils are encouraged.

Key features of creating open and safe spaces for well-being include:

  • ground rules
  • open questioning by the teacher
  • appreciation of multiple perspectives.  

A circle is an ideal grouping for all pupils to be able to see each other, can also work as a metaphor for a sense of togetherness and community. This might not always be possible in large groups or because of social distancing.


Explain to pupils that ground rules are important for creating an open and safe space for well-being. 

Write out a list of ground rules on a large piece of paper and cut them up. Include a few blank pieces of paper. Ask pupils to rank the rules in order of importance for an open and safe space for well-being. Encourage them to write any ground rules they think are missing on the blank pieces of paper.  

Use questions to prompt further discussion as the pupils complete the ranking activity.

Questions might include:

  • Should every personal experience be shared in class?
  • Are there some ideas or opinions that should never be shared in class?
  • Are there some types of humour that would not be appropriate?
  • Does everyone need to show the same body language?
  • Do we always know when we are being sensitive or not?
  • Is there such a thing as a confidential space in school?  

Display ground rules on the classroom wall to refer to in future sessions.  Encourage pupils to revisit, review and refine them after each session.

Listen to others

Take turns to speak

Show good body language

Be confidential

Share personal experiences

Develop positive relationships

Be sensitive to others

Encourage humour

Build on each other’s ideas

Share own ideas and opinions

Can they think of any new ground rules they might add or any they don’t think are important?

It is important to use ground rules to establish the classroom as a space for every session and for teachers to be aware of support channels if students require it.

Differentiation for SEND

Introduce fewer statements to rank initially and explain key vocabulary where necessary. Adapt language accordingly.