This strategy will help students to:

  • explore a health-related situation in a non threatening way

  • trial options and examine consequences and outcomes

  • develop empathy for another person's attitude towards a health issue.


  1. A hypothetical situation is developed either by the teacher or the students for ‘expert' panel members to debate and ‘community members' (rest of class) to make a decision upon. Devise the hypothetical situation well before the debate and ensure that the situation is broad enough to warrant a wide range of panel members (e.g. P & C President, student representative, police officer, parent, doctor).

  2. Give expert panel members their role cards. Both panel and community members then research the topic. 

  3. On the day of the hypothetical, allow panellists time to practise their introductions and responses to the situation and give the rest of the class time to prepare possible questions that may challenge the panellist's opinions. 

  4. Labels describing each expert should be placed on the panel desk.

  5. The teacher or a student facilitator poses the hypothetical situation, introduces the members of the panel and prompts the audience for questions. 

  6. Once the debate is finished, facilitate the final voting process with the audience. 

  7. It is important to process the hypothetical by asking the audience to identify which pieces of information presented by the panel members helped them to make a decision.

Example: Relationships and safety choices

Provide students with a number of different scenarios about relationships and safety. Students select one scenario to work through in order to determine:

  • How might the person be feeling?

  • What could they do? 

  • What might happen next?


To give an overview of students' opinions, stop the panellists at various points during the debate and ask the community members to vote on the hypothetical by a show of hands.

Adapted from: Meyer, L. REDI for Parents: Resilience and Drug Education Information to Support Family-School Partnerships. Australia: Department of Education, Science and Training. 2006.