Create safe and nurturing environments at the start of the school year.

Are you:

  • Wondering what makes effective school rules
  • Mixing up values with safety routines?
  • You’re an NQT and want to know where to start?

If you prefer to listen I’ve recorded the premise of this blog over on YouTube, or please do read on if that’s your preferred way of digesting.

Why do we need school rules?

The main reason is so that everyone in the school can live under the same umbrella of agreed and commonly held values.

A few years ago, I worked with a school in special measures in Birmingham where Ofsted had identified the school as being unsafe.

It was clear on visiting that the children had no clear rules or boundaries and the one’s they had were inconsistent and different in every classroom and corridor!

When this is the case, we create a very unsafe place for children to be.

I worked with them on behaviour management systems and one of them was to have a whole school way of working and that included – whole school rules.

Where to start:

Speak to the children, staff and lunchtime supervisors and discuss the moral values and behaviours that are important to them and would make the school a safe and nurturing place, where they can learn and flourish.

Get them all to draw up the rules they would like and then draw the themes together.

Rules generally fall into the following categories:

  • Respect for self
  • Respect for others
  • Respect for property
  • Respect for the environment
  • Responsibility for your actions.

Top Tips for Creating School Rules Without Being Negative

The above rules are a good example of school rules that are moral values.

They are not the same as safety routines, although those also have their place.

These are ‘being’ rules as opposed to ‘doing’ rules.

When a child grows up, we want them to be able to say, ‘I am an honest person,’ and to know that they are and understand what that means to them. We don’t need them to grow up saying ‘I’m the sort of person who always walks on the left.’ Handy as that is in school, it is not a moral value.

We need to keep the two kinds of rules apart.  It helps to call one rules and the other routines.

Routines are things like, walk on the right, where the pencil pots go etc

How many school rules should we have?

I’d suggest you have no more than six.  Too many and children and staff don’t remember them.

Discuss your rules in assembly after the holidays

It’s very important that the school rules are discussed after every school holiday, particularly the long summer holidays.

Make sure every member of staff is in that the assembly so the children know that everyone in this school knows our agreed moral values.  That includes your lunchtime supervisors, MDSA’s, cooks, caretaker, school business manager, office staff etc.

Where to put the school rules

Your whole school rules should be displayed in each classroom, dining hall, playground, school hall, dining hall, staffroom and corridors.

Phrase school rules in the positive

Use positive language. As I explain on my courses, children hear you what you say and are motivated to do the right thing when you phrase it in the positive.  Children don’t hear the word ‘don’t.’ For instance, if we say ‘don’t run’ they only hear run!

If you’re wondering about this, don’t think of pink elephants!  Now what do you see! Yes pink elephants.

So remember phrase your school rules in the positive –

We are kind,

We work hard …….

Playground Rules

Do remember to put your school rules/values in the playground.  Very often children think there’s a different set of moral values inside to outside and this makes it very tricky for your lunchtime supervisors.

Additional rules for lunchtimes can include:

  • We play well with others
  • We care for our playground and equipment

Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions just drop me a line at

If you’d like to know more about my Lunchtime Supervisor Superhero Training, go to: