Preparation is the key to an effective assembly, and the best way to develop good practice in this area is to learn from others with experience, as you develop your own style and approach. The following are pointers that inform the work of the assembly writers on this site, all of whom are experienced practitioners.
As you prepare an assembly, think about the ages of the children who will experience it. Ask yourself:
- Do the story, reflection, and song use appropriate language and concepts?
- If the assembly contains a mix of ages, is there a good balance of material to suit each group?
- Are there opportunities for older children to be involved in leading assembly for younger classes?
Are there any possibilities for linking the assembly to appropriate curriculum areas? It should be recognized that the assembly, with its focus on a celebration and communal activity, is different from curriculum-based teaching. One useful method of integrating the assembly with the curriculum is the class assembly in which a class prepares a presentation based on work they have been doing.
As well as thinking about the content and shape of the assembly, give some thought to the environment in which it will take place.
- Is there a visual focus appropriate to the content? This might be a picture, candles or a collection of objects.
- Will there be music playing as the children enter? If so, this can be a rich opportunity to expand the children's experience. It can also be used to allow children to participate in the assembly by encouraging different classes to choose or play pieces of music. Aim for a variety of musical styles across the week and throughout the year.
Time for reflection
Some time for reflection and / or prayer is an important part of an effective assembly. Inclusive phrases for use when introducing prayer or reflection might be: ‘Now a chance to think about...’, ‘I'm going to say a prayer now. You can join in or just sit and listen to the words’, or ‘Something to think or pray about’.
Children themselves can write this part of the assembly, and it can include responses in words and / or actions. Songs can also be used reflectively.
A useful checklist when planning your assembly is to think through the extent to which it includes the following:
- valuing individuals and individuality;
- celebrating the school community;
- inspiring through stories / examples of faith;
- valuing and exploring faith perspectives;
- a time of quiet for prayer or reflection;
- some joint activity such as singing, or ‘join-in’ story;
- inclusive use of language, particularly in relation to prayer or times of reflection.
Finally, a reminder that the assemblies on this site are designed for you to adapt and use, taking what is appropriate to your style and school situation. We hope that they provide good stimuli for your own thinking and planning, as well as offering models of good practice.