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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!

Are you tired of struggling to come up with assembly ideas for your secondary school? Don't worry, we've got you covered! With our simple 5-minute assembly planning method, you'll never have to google "assembly ideas secondary" again.

Assemblies are an important part of school life, providing a space for the community to come together, celebrate success and learn about new topics. But, let's be real, planning assemblies can be a daunting task for teachers. That's why we want to share a simple and effective way to plan assemblies that won't take up all your precious planning time.

female pupils during a high school assembly

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.

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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

One of the best sources of inspiration for assemblies is the news. News articles bring us thousands of stories every day about what is going on in the world. They’re a stream of constant inspiration. And the best part? Websites like BBC Newsround translate these stories into child-friendly language, taking away a huge chunk of work for teachers.

With just a quick look at BBC Newsround, you'll have access to hundreds of ideas for assemblies. All you have to do is choose the ones you want to talk about. Here are two ways to use news articles in 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!

British Values Assembly

Why not download our free British Values Assembly to get you started?

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