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Moving Forward

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools


To consider changes in life, particularly ‘moving on’ from one school to another.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to build a small cairn (pile of stones) in a central place for all to see. You may wish to have extra stones available for the children who are moving on. Alternatively, you may wish to give each child a stone from the cairn to remind them of their time in school.

  • If possible, arrange for some of the children who are moving on to be ready to share a milestone from their own life, such as their first day in school, learning something new or making a special friend. You may also like to ask the children to share something that they found difficult, such as an argument with friends or being unable to do some of the work.

  • If possible, have a ‘moving on wish’ for the children from each class. For example, ‘We hope that you make lots of friends’ or ‘We hope that you are happy wherever you go’.

  • Optional: you may wish to have a focus table and three candles to light during the Time for reflection part of the assembly.

  • Note: this assembly can be used for the transition from primary to secondary school or adapted for when an individual is leaving the school.


  1. Ask the children if they have heard of the phrase, ‘a rite of passage’. Explain that a rite of passage refers to an event marking an important moment in someone’s life, such as the transition from one school to another. Point out that several children in Year 6 are about to undergo a rite of passage as they move from primary school to secondary school.

  2. Explain that significant milestones in life often cause us to stop and consider our past and our future. Rituals and symbols can help us to respond to our own and others feelings about moving on, acceptance, letting go and finding peace. They can help us to express the inexpressible and treat the event as something special, knowing that there is more to these times than meets the eye.

  3. Explain that todays assembly is going to look at ways of bringing together the past and the future into the present. This is a very special time for Year 6 (or individuals) because they will soon be moving on and starting their new schools in September.

  4. Some of Year 6 have been looking back in time and gathering some of their memories of being at our school.

    Invite several children to share their special memories.

  5. Invite a member of each class to share their wishes for those moving on.

  6. Show the cairn to the children. Explain that a cairn is a pile of stones often seen at the top of a mountain or at a key point on a long walk. It is made by the people who have reached that point placing a stone on the top of it.

Time for reflection

Many of us find that changes bring a mixture of emotions. We may feel excited and happy, or we may feel apprehensive, worried and frightened. These are all normal feelings that everyone will feel at some point in their lives. However, life is like a journey. We need to keep moving if we are to experience all the wonderful things that lie ahead.

We all have memories that we take with us to our new situations. 

You may wish to ask three of the leavers to light candles on the focus table as you read these words.

Light the first candle.

Lay down what is past and look to the future.

Light the second candle.

Reach out to share the lives of others and touch a wider world.

Light the third candle.

Be at peace and care for one another.

You may wish to ask each child who is moving on to place a stone on the cairn before they leave. Alternatively, you could take one stone from the cairn to give to each child as a reminder of their time in school.


Shalom (Come and Praise, 141)

Publication date: July 2018   (Vol.20 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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