When Friendship Goes Wrong
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To consider that friendship is worth saving and that strength is needed to reconcile differences.
Preparation and materials
You will need to be familiar with the story in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3.
Ask the children if they have ever fallen out with a friend, or someone in their family. Ask how the problem was solved.
Listen to a range of responses.
Explain that you are going to read a story in which there are misunderstandings that need to be sorted out.
Read the following story.
Mr Prentice had queued for hours at the big bookshop in town to get a copy of the book that had just been published, from the series that everyone wanted to read [insert appropriate title]! His class was in awe of him! He had got up really early so that he could be as near to the front of the queue as possible. Some of the children in his class had wanted to do the same thing, but they had got up too late. By the time they had reached the shop, the queue wound all the way round the block. By the time they had reached the front of the queue, all the books had been sold!
Mr Prentice brought his prized copy of the book into school on Monday morning. He had ceremoniously cleared his desk, which was unusual for him, and the book was placed like a priceless treasure on the bare surface for all to admire.
Class 5P were on tenterhooks; they knew that Mr Prentice had promised to read them the first two chapters of the book later in the day. First, though, there would be assembly, followed by maths, English and then, after lunch, PE. PE was usually their favourite lesson, but today, they wanted it to be over so that they could hear the first instalment of the new book. Excitement was mounting.
The assembly that day was all about friends and friendship, and Class 5P all thought that Mr Prentice was their best friend because he was going to share his new book with them. Maths and English came and went. After lunch, they changed for PE and went down to the hall. It was nearly time for the big event of the day; this was what they had all been waiting for.
When they returned to class, Mr Prentice went into the room first. The class came tumbling in behind him, everyone wanting to be the first to be changed and ready. Mr Prentice suddenly stopped, frozen to the spot. Gradually, everyone did the same until an uncomfortable and eerie silence descended on Class 5P. The book was not on the desk - it was gone.
Nobody knew what to say. Everyone quietly got changed out of their PE things while Mr Prentice stood silently looking at the empty space on his desk. No one needed to say anything - they all just sat there bewildered, wondering how it could possibly have disappeared. They all knew how much this book meant to Mr Prentice. They started to search everywhere, but the book was nowhere to be found. The bell went for the end of the afternoon. Mr Prentice said, ‘Good afternoon’ to the class very coldly indeed. The penny began to drop as they gloomily made their way to the cloakroom - Mr Prentice thought that one of them had taken the book.
Class 5P went home very unhappy that day. They couldn’t understand why Mr Prentice, who was their friend, could think that one of them could do such a thing.
Next morning, the children were dreading going to school - what would they say to Mr Prentice? How could they ever prove that none of them had taken the book?
The bell rang for the start of the school day. They filed into the classroom to find Mr Prentice and the headteacher, Mrs Bradbury, waiting for them. They sat quietly in their seats and waited for someone to speak. It was Mrs Bradbury who broke the ice.
‘Class 5P, I’ve come to apologize,’ she said, with a slight wobble in her voice. ‘I was the one who took the copy of the book. I saw it on Mr Prentice’s desk while you were all at PE and I thought I would quickly have a look at it. I didn’t know that you were expecting to read it after your PE lesson. I should have asked Mr Prentice before I took the book.’
Mr Prentice joined in. ‘It’s me who should be apologizing,’ he said, looking round at the class. ‘I didn’t behave like a real friend to you yesterday when I stopped trusting you all. Someone had taken my book - but quite innocently. I’m sorry - I hope you’ll all forgive me and we can be friends again.’
For a moment, the members of Class 5P remembered how angry and disappointed they had felt when they had not been trusted.
Mrs Bradbury spoke again. ‘We all make mistakes with our friends sometimes,’ she said, ‘and we have to make sure we find a way to say sorry.’
Everyone began to smile as they saw Mr Prentice take the book from the drawer of his desk.
As Mrs Bradbury left the classroom, Mr Prentice began to read. ‘Chapter One . . .’
- In the story, it would have been easy for Mrs Bradbury to slip the book back onto Mr Prentice’s desk and never own up to the fact that she had taken it. Sometimes, it takes a lot of courage to admit our mistakes and to say that we are sorry.
Time for reflection
Think about your friends and family:
- is there anything you need to sort out with them?
- do you need to admit a mistake?
- do you need to say that you are sorry?
It takes courage to say sorry, but in the long run, it leads to stronger friendships and respect from other people.
Please help us to be good friends.
Please help us to sort out problems quickly.
Please help us to have the courage to say sorry when we know that we are wrong.
Please help us to be quick to forgive people when they say sorry to us.
‘The Lord’s Prayer’ (Come and Praise, 51)