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To encourage students to consider what it means to make a new start at the beginning of the autumn term.

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage students to consider what it means to make a new start at the beginning of the autumn term.

Preparation and materials

  • None required.


  1. So what’s new?

    (During the following section you may wish to draw attention to specific students and staff.)

    I can see some new hairstyles around the room, both colours and cuts.
    Some of you have clearly bought new items of uniform or school clothes.
    We have some new members of staff.

    There are also various new students. In fact, we have a whole new year-group in Year 7, and some additions in Year 12.

    Why? Because this is September, the start of the new school year.
  2. There is in fact something different about every single one of us as we gather for this (first) assembly of the autumn term. We have all changed as people in the six or so weeks since the end of the summer term. This may be because we’ve visited places, at home or abroad, that have altered our perspective on life. We’ve experienced different cultures and broadened our horizons. Maybe we’ve made new relationships (dare I suggest a few holiday romances?) that have opened our eyes to different ways of looking at the world. Some of us may have learned a new skill through taking part in an activity holiday or course. Many students in this school now have new status because of the qualifications they gained in GCSE and AS level exams. (You may wish to give some brief details of the overall picture.) These would all count as gains in terms of our overall development. For a few of us, however, the dominant experience of this summer may have been one of loss. The loss may have been of one very special person, and that experience takes time to deal with. If we’ve moved home the loss, though less deep, will be much wider – the loss of a whole network of friends. Even Facebook can’t completely bridge that gap. And so, for a variety of reasons, we have changed as people.

    The beginning of the autumn term is for us rather like a starting line, the first sentence in a novel, the whistle at the start of the match or the first bars of a piece of music. There is a newness to it, a sense that this is a time to look ahead rather than back, to anticipate rather than to review. It offers a new start.
  3. First, there is the possibility of a new start in relation to ourselves. A line can be drawn under past failures and we can adopt new aims and set ourselves new targets. Some of these may be a second chance at a target from last year, but that doesn’t matter. This is a new start. Second, there is the possibility also of a new start in relation to others. The summer has given a break in the rivalries, jealousies and resentments that existed before the holiday. September offers the opportunity to forgive and, most importantly, to forget. We are different people so have the freedom to choose to act differently towards one another.
  4. Jesus constantly offered people the opportunity of a new start. That’s what the resurrection symbolizes. He gave new sight, new mobility, new hearing, forgiveness, new direction, new acceptance. Why? Because Jesus knew that we need not be enslaved by the past and all that’s gone wrong. We are made to be people of the future, and for us the future starts now.

Time for reflection

Spend a moment considering the following thoughts. You may wish to turn them into a prayer:

Be thankful for the good experiences of the summer.

Be sorry for the failed relationships and broken promises that existed at the end of the summer term.

Make a plan to take some action that arises out of today’s assembly – to forgive and forget, to set a target, to welcome someone new into the school.


‘Brand new day’ by Sting

Publication date: September 2010   (Vol.12 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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