Ann Gravells, Author and Education Consultant

Establishing ground rules with your learners, whether in a group or a one to one basis will help underpin appropriate behaviour and respect throughout their time with you, and help the sessions run smoothly.

Ground rules are boundaries and rules to help create suitable conditions within which learners (and yourself) can safely work and learn. If they are not set, problems may occur which could disrupt the session.

It's best to agree the ground rules during the first meeting, perhaps after an icebreaker once everyone is feeling more relaxed. Ground rules should always be discussed and negotiated with your learners rather than forced upon them.

Using an activity to do this will help learners feel included, take ownership of, and hopefully follow them. Some ground rules might be renegotiated or added to throughout the programme; for example, changing the agreed break time.

Others might be non-negotiable: for example, health and safety requirements. These might already be listed in a learner handbook, agreement or learner contract and you would need to ensure all learners have a copy, and know that they are in addition to the ground rules.

When establishing ground rules, you need to have an idea of what will be non-negotiable, and what can be negotiable.

Examples of ground rules

Non-negotiable ground rules:

  • No anti-social behaviour
  • Everyone is to respect the views and beliefs of others
  • The area is to be left tidy

Negotiable ground rules:

  • No eating or drinking during sessions
  • Mobile phones and electronic devices to be switched off
  • Breaks will last a maximum of 20 minutes

You might like to change any negative ground rules into positive ones; for example, no eating or drinking during sessions could become eat and drink outside of the session.

You should be a role model and set a good example for your learners by not breaking any of the ground rules yourself. If you have too many ground rules, learners might become over cautious of what they can and can't do and this could affect the learning process.

Whatever method you use to establish the ground rules, make sure they are not open to any misinterpretation. Having clear ground rules will help your learners feel comfortable and able to participate.

Ways to establish ground rules

One way is where both you and your learners work together by a process of discussion and negotiation. This enables your learners to recognise what is and is not acceptable, giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility. It also enables learners to begin working together as a group and encourages aspects such as listening, compromise and respect for others.

Alternatively, your learners could write down the rules individually, then discuss in pairs and join into fours to create a poster or a list on flipchart paper. One or two learners could present this to the full group and agreement can then take place.

Another way would be to ask your learners what others have done during previous events they have attended which made learning difficult. They will usually come up with answers like mobile phones ringing and people interrupting others. You can then start creating a list to build upon.

Ways to maintain ground rules

Keeping the ground rules visible throughout the sessions will act as a reminder of what is and is not acceptable, and enable them to be amended or added to as necessary.

Any learners who have commenced the programme late will be able to see them. It's useful to refer to them at the beginning of the session and when a rule is broken.

For example, if a learner is late, they should be reminded that it is a requirement that all sessions start promptly, otherwise they might not make the effort to arrive on time for subsequent sessions.

If other learners see that you don't say or do anything, they will feel the ground rules have no value. You could also refer to the them when they are not broken as positive reinforcement of good behaviour.

If a learner breaks a ground rule, you may find their peers reprimand them before you do. At the end of your session you could thank your learners for following the ground rules; this will act as a reminder of their existence.

If you can lead by example, you will help create a culture of mutual compliance which should enable effective teaching, learning and assessment to take place.

Ann Gravells, Author, Creator of Teacher Training Resources and an Education Consultant

This text has been adapted from Gravells A The Award in Education and Training (2014 Revised edition) London Learning Matters SAGE Publications Ltd. Copyright © 2018 Ann Gravells

Ann Gravells Newsroom Strap

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Richard Branson Pop Up Broadclyst

Richard Branson surprises school kids by popping up on Microsoft Teams to join an Enterprise lesson at Broadclyst School, Devon. He tells budding...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

Impetus #YouthJobsGap: Our Youth Jobs Gap research shows youth unemployment is far from being yesterday’s problem.…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page