16 October 2020

Pastoral Care: The importance of assemblies

Pastoral Care: The importance of assemblies

If you mention the word “assembly” to a class of students in any school, you are bound to hear at least a few grumbles and groans.  Throughout my career in teaching, I have always sought to champion the role of assemblies in school life.  Assemblies are a time for the school community or year group  to gather together and to share in an experience together.

Why then do some students dislike assemblies?  The old-fashioned style of giving an assembly about a random topic, often involving a dry morality tale, is not always the most inspirational.  Do we as adults enjoy listening to this sort of content and this style of delivery?  If not, then why would this style be the best to engage young people?  At EIC we run assemblies in a different way, and our method seems to really work.  Assemblies are delivered on a rota basis, so that the students can hear a wide variety of voices and benefit from different assembly styles.  The teacher giving the assembly often involves students in both the planning and the delivery of the assembly.  Topics chosen are relevant and current, with examples being Black history and contraception. 

Perhaps the most important factor which makes EIC assemblies so effective is that we have a Form Period directly following the assembly.  The teacher or student who delivered the assembly prepares resources for the Form Period, and these vary from discussion prompts to active activities.  This takes the assembly away from its traditional model of being a 15 minute slot where students listen (or doze off) and can then immediately forget the content.  Walking around the College during Form Period is such a pleasure, and it is such a delight to be able to hear the students discuss and engage with the topics.  After all, if a topic is important enough to be raised in an assembly, surely it is important enough to spend time in active learning afterwards?

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