Freedom of Expression and the Right to be Safe


This lesson provides an opportunity for learners and teacher to explore attitudes, behaviour and the use of language; and their effect on others.

As such it contributes to the Scottish Government’s national outcomes:

      • We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others.

      • We take pride in a strong, fair and inclusive national identity.

Article 42 of the UNCRC requires that children, young people and adults learn and know about the UNCRC.

This lesson focuses on Article 13 (Freedom of expression): Children have the right to get and share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or others.

In exercising the right to freedom of expression, children have the responsibility to also respect the rights, freedoms and reputations of others.

The right to freedom of expression includes the right to share information in any way they choose, including by talking, drawing or writing.

As other articles of the UNCRC make clear, a child or young person should be able to express themselves regardless of their religion or culture.

Explain to learners that they will study many facts and hear different opinions.

They should understand that people will view things differently depending on their own experience and they should understand that validly held oppositional opinions can be held and they must try to separate fact from opinion.

Learning Intention: I am learning about the right to freedom of expression and the right to be safe as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Success Criteria: I am aware that the language I use when discussing Israel and Palestine must be respectful and sensitive to the feelings of others especially Jewish or Muslim people.

Preparation: Jotters/paper issued. Go through learning intentions.

Take the class through the presentation, Freedom of Expression and the Right to be Safe explaining and discussing as appropriate.

Activity 1

Either do this task as a paired activity or you may prefer to have a class debate.

Paired Activity

Organise students into pairs. Present the students with the statement, ‘There should be no laws to limit freedom of speech.’ Students identify two reasons to support the statement and two reasons why they disagree with the statement.

Class Debate

Teacher Instructions – adapted from Lessons from Africa.

The class is going to take part in a debate.

This is the proposed structure for the debate, including an ideal timescale. However, depending on the length of a lesson, the teacher should feel free to change and adapt as necessary.

The proposed motion is: “There should be no laws to limit freedom of speech.”

One team will propose the statement and the other oppose.

You will need

    • A Chair.

    • A Timekeeper.

    • 4 people for the Proposition (For).

    • 4 people for the Opposition (Against).

    • Divide the class into 2 groups. Each group will assist the debating team with their argument.

    • Each group will make a list of the main points to be made for their position and gather information to support the points.

    • Supporters in each group will make a list of questions to ask the other team. Supporters can also pass questions to the debating team during the debate.

    • While supporters are writing questions, the debating team decides who is making which point and considers what they want to say.

The Debate

Before the debate starts, allow the groups 5 minutes to collaborate and look through what they’re going to speak about.

    • Each speaker will have 2 minutes to present their argument. The first speaker from each team should take it in turns to present their arguments to the audience followed by the second two speakers from each.

    • The rest of the class will be the floor. When both of the first two speakers have presented their arguments, those on the floor will be able to ask questions of either side. This should last no more than 5 minutes. This should be followed by the second speakers from each team presenting their arguments, with 5 minutes given for questions when both have spoken.

    • Using a set of indicators (marked 1-5 if possible) for both the speeches and open-floor discussion, the teacher will award marks for each point made, for both the speeches and open floor. If the teacher wants, they can also make notes of the points made for discussion.

    • At the end of the debate the teacher (or chair) should ask for a raise of hands. For each hand raised, another mark will be awarded to the side in question.

Timescale (approximately 30 minutes)

    • Chair opens the debate and introduces the first two speakers (1 minute).

    • Speaker 1 of the Proposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • Speaker 1 of the Opposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • The floor is open for questions (5 minutes).

    • Chair introduces the second two speakers (1 minute).

    • Speaker 2 of the Proposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • Speaker 2 of the Opposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • The floor is open for questions a second time. The floor will then vote for or against the motion (5 minutes).

    • If there is time, the teacher can then proceed to give feedback to the speakers and points made on the floor (10 minutes).

Activity 2

In groups ask learners to devise ground rules for the debate of the next lesson. Emphasise that it should be fair to everyone.

Their conclusions should reflect the following possible ground rules:

  • Listen respectfully, without interrupting or judging.

  • Allow everyone to have a chance to speak.

  • Listen actively trying to understand others’ views and why they hold them.

  • Criticise ideas, not individuals.

  • Comment to share information and explain how you feel, not to try to persuade others.

  • Avoid blaming individuals or groups.

  • Avoid inflammatory or insulting language.

  • Focus on facts, the human impact and possible solutions.

  • Avoid assumptions or generalisations about any individual or group.

  • Avoid asking individuals to speak or answer for their (perceived) social group.