If you really want to deliver great primary school assemblies here’s a top tip – plan some engagement into your assembly…
For effective engagement in school assembly time, few things work as well as getting the pupils involved. Firstly, here are three reasons why you should get your pupils involved, then I’ll share three ways to get them involved.
School assemblies are about creating space for an encounter. Primarily, you want that encounter to enable children to reflect on who they are, their values and beliefs and see the world from a Christian perspective. Children will identify and connect with their peers as you involve them in the worship, as they encounter Jesus through the words, actions, and contributions of other children.
School assemblies are about creating a shared space. There will be greater ownership, commitment and interest from children if they are bringing an offering as part of worship – whether that is a reading, a poem, helping with an illustration, playing an instrument – an aspect of worship is the offerings we bring, which includes the pupils.
School assemblies are about fresh perspectives. As an adult leading collective worship, there might be a particular way that you enjoy communicating or bringing out a point for children to think about. Children themselves though often bring out a unique perspective on a story or song or prayer if given the chance to be involved.
Here are three ways to involve the pupils:
1. Get feedback on your collective worship
A great way is for pupils to be involved in shaping how your school engages with school assemblies or collective worship. Does your school have a “dream team”? Space for children to imagine and get creative about how they would like things to be in the school? Maybe a team of children could be brought together representing different year groups and express what they enjoy about collective worship, which guests to the school they find particularly helpful, which areas of collective worship could be developed and improved.
2. Create opportunities to help and lead
School assemblies are not just about what you lead “up front” – there might be chairs that need setting out, PA that needs turning on and checking, lighting, projection for songs and videos, laying out the table with candles/cross. You might do this already (there is often a group of Year 6 pupils who do these tasks), but – why not have some Year 5 or Year 4 children “shadow” the Year 6 pupils? It’s a great way to cascade a bit of leadership and give those Year 6s some added responsibility.
3. Plan an assembly takeaway
Why not explore what pupils could do in their classrooms to reflect and act on what they are discovering in collective worship? Could spaces be created in classrooms for response spaces? What ideas might the pupils come up with remembering what they have been exploring in worship? Work with class teachers to encourage this kind of participation through the week. Worship is not just a moment in an assembly – shifting the focus to how the children engage with God in other areas of the school will serve to enhance the Christian distinctiveness of your school.
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This blog was written by Ali Campbell from The Resource. Ali is an experienced educational practitioner and advisor on collective worship to the church of England and community schools. He is experienced in training head teachers and clergy in delivering fun and engaging assemblies. Ali is also one of Big Start Assemblies contributors, helping develop a large number of the walkthrough scripts. The Resource is full of ideas resources for those working with children and young people.