Delivering an assembly is for some senior leaders, the only ‘teaching’ contact that they have with the pupils and one of the main forums in which their exposition and public address style and methods are seen by their members of staff.
Developing and sustaining new, interesting and exciting ideas for assemblies and ensuring that they are engaging, relevant and actually teach something is, in itself a challenge, especially given such high stacks involved!
Planning the assembly content and structure for their delivery is a crucial and essential part of the process and should be approached in the same way that you would approach the planning of a lesson or a staff meeting. It is all about planning!
How then do you approach that blank piece of paper that needs to be filled to provide an outline of each assembly theme for each morning or each term for the next academic year?
Firstly, it is important to remember the purpose of an assembly. It is not an opportunity for the pupils to count the tiles on the wall, chat with their friends, play with the hair of the person in front of them or for teachers to doze off or grab a coffee or photocopy their next lesson.
Assemblies are a very important part of the life of the school and often an opportunity to resent, reacquaint and to establish the school community and its direction. Planning each days' focus for assembly delivery is a key role of senior leadership. Assemblies also provide the statutory duty of offering the pupils and staff the occasion to practice collective worship.
So how are you going to fill in the blanks?
1. Allocate themes for each assembly throughout the week;
Monday – welcome to the week ahead and set targets and goals. Spend time outlining the joy it is to see everyone back after the weekend or a holiday, ready to learn, ready to do their best with a clean slate.
This first assembly of the week should always be taken by the Headteacher or at the very least a member of the senior leadership team.
Tuesday – have a PSHCE focus. Look at an aspect of the curriculum and additionally use it to support the teaching of British values. This assembly can be led by a member of the middle leadership team. Planning and delivering an assembly on a given them is wonderful for a teacher’s professional development and also their confidence.
Wednesday – using an annual religious calendar choose a relevant and interesting focus for your school community. Passover, Lent and Easter at this time of year, Chinese New Year, Haile Selassie’s and Guru Nanak's birthdays' all have fascinating informative elements that can be shared.
Thursday – give the class teachers the opportunity to deliver their own assembly in the classroom or their tutor room. Something related to a news item or an event in the international, national or local community. International Women’s Day would provide a wonderful theme and the opportunity for further discussion and debate.
Friday – offering the opportunity to review the week and to celebrate everyone’s achievements and to discuss any issues that may have arisen is key. It re-centres the school community and can be the perfect opportunity for some explicit and discreet teaching.
2. Make sure once the themes have been agreed that you plan the assembly as you would a lesson
Use examples and ensure that there are interactive points throughout. Teach the pupils what a ‘good’ audience looks like and reward, calm entry, quiet sitting and active participation.
Start each assembly and end each with one as well. Often schools have a school reflection, and this can be read by a different member of staff or pupil each week. Lighting a candle can create awe and wonder and a focal point for this part of the assembly.
3. Use the entry and exit of the assembly space as an opportunity to introduce the pupils to different music
Calm music can also act as a guide for the pupils as to how to enter the space and also how to exit and return to the classroom.
Most of all enjoy the opportunity to be all together and make it an interesting and informative session – your very own TED talk!
About our Community Expert
Editorial Advisory Board Lead
Over 27 years of educational experiences in a number of settings. Developed a clear vision and ethos for inclusion which puts the child at the centre and a clear understanding of how to support, engage and nurture the individual.
Ability to train all staff through effective and reflective continual professional development in behavioural management techniques that begin, establish and maintain change in all.