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15 Nov 2022

Take the stress out of assemblies: How to plan an assembly in less than 10 minutes

Stressed Teacher Planning Assembly VotesforSchools

Help! I need assembly ideas!

When thinking about assemblies, teachers usually fall into one of two camps: either you see assembly as a breezy 15-minute time to bring your pupils together at the start of end of the day, or you see it as a sweaty-palmed moment of uncertainty, with no idea what to talk about for 15-20 minutes. Either way, with your mind filled with planning, marking and remembering to photocopy a set of resources, coming up with assembly ideas can seem a daunting task.

However, we think we’ve cracked it, and found a way to plan assemblies in as little as five minutes, without ever having to google ‘assembly ideas’ on your lunch break ever again.

pupils in assembly at school VotesforSchools

What is the purpose of school assemblies?

Assemblies are often undervalued and under-utilised, but they are great spaces to celebrate success and come together as a community-Sam Brown, writing for TES.

As Sam writes, assembly is a time for your school to come together: like a giant staff meeting, with all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that make up your school. They’re a time to talk about what’s going on, both in school and outside of it. 

They’re also a great time to teach your pupils about something new, such a different cultural celebration or to embed British values through fable-like stories that tackle issues such as racism or bullying.

Oftentimes, there’s something big going on in school to talk about, such as Internet Safety Week or the upcoming school fete. On these occasions, either you’ve got a clear message to deliver (such as “don’t forget to bring a tin of beans!”) or a quick search online can pull up over a million different free assemblies to download and go for whichever Awareness Day is coming up soon.

But what if there isn’t a big awareness day this week? What if your mind is drawing blanks on what to deliver in front of hundreds of children? How do you decide what to deliver your weekly assembly on, and how long do you need to spend creating resources? That’s where we come in.

Secondary School Students in Assembly VotesforSchools

Planning for assembly: coming up with endless ideas

As we said before, assemblies are a great way to teach children about real-life events, such as a cultural celebration or how to tackle racism… and somewhere that is full of stories like this is the news.

Sometimes overlooked, news sites bring us thousands of stories every day about what is going on in the world. They’re a stream of constant inspiration.

BBC Newsround translate these stories into child-friendly language, taking away a huge chunk of work for teachers.

A quick look at BBC Newsround will supply 100s of ideas, meaning your job is to choose which ones you’d like to talk about in your assembly today. From there, there are two ways to deliver your assembly:

  • The Headlines Assembly

Give an overview of current news stories, keeping your pupils up to date with the world around them.

This assembly is a great way to showcase British Values and prepare your for pupils for life in modern Britain.

To prepare for your assembly, choose 4-5 articles and copy their headlines onto different Powerpoint Presentation slides. Also, read the articles (or print them if you’re likely to forget), and head to your assembly.

During the assembly, show each headline to your pupils and ask them to put their hand up if they’ve heard about this in the news. If yes: brilliant. You can choose a child to take over and explain what they already know to their peers. If not, explain the story to the children using the article that you found earlier. 

You may find that your assembly attendees are so interested in one story that you don’t get through all five, but it’s always best to be prepared with a few, especially if you’re not a fan of having volunteer helpers in your assembly.

  • The Full Story Assembly

‘Deep dive’ into one news story, using it as a teaching moment.

You may find that just one story is dominating the news right now, or there may be one that fits your school ethos well. In this case, you only need to choose one news event to talk about in your assembly.

To dive deeper into just one story, we recommend finding a few images online that help pupils to visualise the event, or even a video that explains what is happening. This news event can be the springboard for talking about why the issue is important, and reminding young people of the expectations that you have for them in school. Again, a British Values goldmine!

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