How to use this site    About Us    Submissions    Feedback    Donate    Links - School Assemblies for every season for everyone

Decorative image - Secondary

Email Twitter Facebook


The Borderline

Having personal boundaries

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


To consider how we can develop our own set of moral standards.

Preparation and materials

  • Further information about events and activities that are related to the year-long festival across Hadrian’s Wall are available at:


  1. Ask the students, ‘Do you have a bucket list for 2022?’

    Explain that you don’t mean a list of jobs that need to be completed; instead, you’re talking about a list of ambitions, journeys and achievements to fit into the year. We’re more than a third of the way through it, so maybe you’ve achieved some already.

    Towards the end of last year, National Geographic magazine created a list of the planet’s 35 most exciting destinations for travel in 2022. They range from Lake Baikal in Russia to Belize in Central America, Adelaide in Australia to Namibia in Africa. The locations are spread throughout the world, so it’s unlikely that anyone would see them all in one year. However, one of them is reasonably close at hand for us: Hadrian’s Wall.

  2. Ask the students whether they know what is so significant about Hadrian’s Wall and why this year marks a special time for it.

    Explain that Hadrian’s Wall is approximately 73 miles long and runs through the counties of Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. Along the wall, there are around 80 milecastles and 160 turrets. What makes 2022 a significant year for the wall is that it was built 1,900 years ago.

    In 122 AD, the Roman emperor, Hadrian, ordered the wall to be constructed to mark the northern borderline of the Roman Empire. Due to its age, and to preserve further what remains, Hadrian’s Wall was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

    The year 2022 marks 1,900 years since construction began. There is a year-long festival to celebrate Hadrian’s Wall, which includes a wide variety of events, so it might be worth a family day out or a weekend trip.

  3. So, what is a borderline for? And why would anyone build a wall to mark it?

    Optional: you may wish to encourage the students to describe the significance of the Wall in the TV series Game of Thrones.

    A boundary wall like Hadrian’s Wall has two purposes: to mark the boundary of land that is under the authority of a particular government and to deter attacks from those who would seek to invade it. To the south of Hadrian’s Wall, Roman law was in force, ensuring a fairly stable authority and social organization. The wall protected this society from attacks by those north of the border.

Time for reflection

We all have our personal borderlines. We can’t see them, but they’re there. They help us to make decisions about how we behave, what we say and who our close friends are.

On one side of the borderline are our principles and beliefs, the things that matter to us. Some of these might come from our upbringing, and others from personal experience. Some might have their roots in our religious faith, and others might be based on the words of wise men and women.

On the other side of the borderline are the temptations that life throws at us every day, challenging us to make good, moral decisions.

Ask the following questions, pausing to allow time for thought.

- What are our borderlines? For example, what about alcohol? Do we drink, even though we’re underage? How much do we drink? What temptations are placed in our path? What are the borderlines that we won’t cross?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What about drugs? Where do we draw the borderline about giving them a try?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What about sex? How far will we go before we say no? How do we feel about attempting to cross the borderlines that others have drawn?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What about criminal activity? Theft may start with minor shoplifting. Drug dealing may start with sharing a joint. Where do our borderlines lie?

Pause to allow time for thought.

We can’t draw the borderlines for each other. We must do that for ourselves. How do we decide where the border lies? Is it necessarily the same for each of us?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of advice available. There’s advice online, both good and bad; we can read and educate ourselves; we can talk with our friends and family; we may even pray. (You may also wish to remind the students of any in-house counselling services that are available.)

Borderlines need to be clear, strong and enduring. That’s why Hadrian’s Wall is still here today.


‘Be the change you wish to see’ by Fearless Soul, available at: (4.42 minutes long)

Extension activities

Mark a line on the floor: one side represents Agree and the other Disagree.

State a moral choice, either devising your own or using the following suggestions.

- It’s OK to shoplift a few sweets.
- Two pints of lager is enough.
- A friend is only a friend if they support me.
- My money is my own.

Ask the students to choose which side of the line they place themselves on. They must be ready to explain why they have made their choice.

Publication date: May 2022   (Vol.24 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
Print this page