Learning Activity 1 Starting out

Activity 1 - Starting Out

Students get introduced to social, personal and education learning (SPHE). They develop a group contract for their class.

Step 1: What SPHE is

Ask the students: What is SPHE and why is it important?

Take feedback from the class using the Teacher’s note, if required.

Teacher's note

SPHE aims to help young people to become more self-aware, to care for themselves and others, and to make informed choices about their health and wellbeing.

SPHE classes involve sharing their experience and opinions and listening to the experience and opinions of others.

In order for these discussions to be a positive experience for everyone, SPHE classes start off with developing SPHE ground rules.


Step 2: SPHE ground rules

Ask the students what the ground rules are and why might we need them for our SPHE classes?

Divide the students into pairs/small groups and give them a few minutes to discuss what needs to happen in the group in order for the class to be a positive experience for all.

Take one suggestion from each group and discuss it. If the class is in agreement, the ground rules can be written on a flipchart page.

When discussing confidentiality, explain that while confidentiality is important, there are limits of confidentiality. If you as their teacher become aware or concerned that someone in the class or a child or young person outside of the class has been harmed, is being harmed, or potentially could be harmed, you would have to talk to another teacher about that for advice on what to do.

You may also wish to take the opportunity to be the ‘one good teacher’. Let the students know that while there are certain things you cannot keep confidential, you are there to listen to them. Make sure they know they can come to you if something is bothering them.

When the ground rules or group contract are agreed, all students should initial the flipchart page. The contract should be displayed during each class.

Teacher's note

Some suggested ground rules might be:

  •  confidentiality - I will not discuss what people say outside of the group
  •  respect - I will respect others’ opinions even when different from mine
  •  listening - I will listen when someone else is speaking
  •  participating - I will participate and not dominate
  •  sensitivity - I will not put others down or slag others
  •  honesty - I will be honest in what I say.

Discussion points:

  •  How does it feel to have made these rules?
  •  Who is responsible for this group working well together? 

The National Educational Psychological Service guidance for schools advises how to listen to students who may be distressed. It uses the listen, protect, connect, model and teach approach. This guidance may help in SPHE classes when sensitive issues are being discussed.

Step 3

One way of becoming more aware of ourselves is through the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment without judgement. Mindfulness activities feature throughout this course. Though used in class it is more beneficial for students to practice them at home.

Listen to this Mindfulness audio exercise (walk in my shoes)