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Human Rights and Citizenship Part 1: Having Your Say

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To look at the importance of the right to hold our opinions and freedom of expression.

Preparation and materials

  • Prepare the following statements on separate cards in writing that is large enough for everyone to see or as images and have the means to display them during the assembly.
    They fall into three categories:

    – A 
    I like chocolate.
    Everyone should own a dog.
    Pink is the best colour.
    No one should be allowed to drive on Thursdays.

    – B 
    All cars should have a free yearly safety test.
    Any form of hunting or shooting for sport should be banned.
    Train travel should be cheaper.
    We should all do more exercise.

    – C 
    There is no God but Allah (Islam).
    Love your neighbour as yourself (Christianity).
    The Lord is your God (Judaism).
    A person becomes perfect by leading an unselfish life (Buddhism).
  • You will also need a card or image for the word ‘Opinions’, a whiteboard or flipchart and six candles with matches or other means of lighting them.
  • Choose some quiet, reflective music to play during the ‘Assembly’, Step 6.
  • Decide whether to use the following poem by Robin Mellor in parts at points during the assembly or as a whole at the beginning or end.

    Song of the refugee child

    I may be little but let me sing,
    I may be a child but let me in,
    What does it matter if I read or write?
    You'll send me to war to learn to fight.
    I am the refugee child.
    I am the hungry of a hundred lands,
    Mine is the blood that stains the white sands
    But I'll climb your barbed wire and walls of stone
    And find a free place to make a new home.
    I am the refugee child.
    I am the dispossessed, wandering one,
    You can't kill me with your bomb and your gun;
    I am the face that looks out from the night
    Towards your rich window with its warmth and its light.
    I am the refugee child.
    I am a child of the family called Poor
    And I am coming to knock on your door;
    I may be little but let me sing.
    I may be a child but you must let me in.
    I am the refugee child.


1. Hold up the ‘Opinions’ card or show the image of it and ask what it means. Record the children’s ideas on the whiteboard or flipchart.

2. Discuss the idea that all opinions are important.

Is that true? What would be the outcome if everyone acted as if they were? Should everyone agree with everyone else to encourage peace and harmony? What would life be like if that were the case?

3. Show the 'A' group of opinions, one by one. Ask the children to consider how important they are and whether or not they affect people's lives for those who believe them. Could they be enforced, so that they became everybody's views?

4. Consider the 'B' group of opinions in the same way. Are these different kinds of views? Why? These opinions might have a more significant effect than the ‘A’ group of opinions if they were enforced? They are certainly more sensible and may be more acceptable. What do you think?

5. The 'C' group of opinions is another set of important opinions. They are at the centre of many people's lives and allow them to have a sense of belonging and value.

6. Write the following final set of words while everyone is watching (play your chosen piece of quiet music while you do so to set a reflective mood):

– respect

– tolerance

– freedom

– choice

– peace

– harmony.

Explain that these can only be achieved when there is freedom of expression, the freedom to hold beliefs (not harmful to others) that are important to groups or individuals and talk about those beliefs without fear of punishment or discrimination.

Caring and democratic societies like our own ensure this is so by having laws that protect people's rights. The Human Rights Act is such a law. Not all countries or societies are so lucky and, in many cases, people are imprisoned, hurt or killed because they express their opinions or beliefs.

Time for reflection

You or one or more of the children now light a candle for each of the six aspects of freedom of expression listed in the ‘Assembly’, Step 6, saying, in turn, ‘This light is the light of respect.’, ‘This light is the light of tolerance.’ and so on.

Ask the children to hold in their minds a belief that they value. Read this part of a verse from ‘Song of the refugee child’ by Robin Mellor:

I am a child of the family called Poor
And I am coming to knock on your door;
I may be little but let me sing.
I may be a child but you must let me in.
I am the refugee child.


Dear God,
Help the silent speak.
Let the silenced sing.
May truth have a voice.

Ideas for follow-up activities

1.Find out about Amnesty International – an organization that helps people who have been unfairly treated because of their beliefs.

2. Consider the things, opinions and beliefs that are valued in school. Articulate them and display them in a prominent position.

3. In what ways could it be made easy for people to have freedom of expression? In your community? Around the world?

4. Could you support a local cause and make the cause better known by sharing its opinions and needs? How?

5. The Citizenship Foundation has some excellent resources concerning human rights (available on its website at:

Publication date: June 2015   (Vol.17 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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