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Setting the BAR

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to set the right priorities as we continue our journey through school.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the words ‘SETTING THE BAR’ displayed.

  • Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:

    - a seesaw, available at:
    - an aeroplane, available at:
    - some friends enjoying a piggyback race, available at:

  • Have available the YouTube video ‘The time you have (in jellybeans)’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.44 minutes long and is available at:
  • Optional: you may wish to play the songs ‘Beautiful day’ by U2 and ‘That’s what friends are for’ by Dionne Warwick at the beginning or end of the assembly. A version of ‘That’s what friends are for’ is available on YouTube at: and is 4.31 minutes long.


  1. Show the words ‘SETTING THE BAR’.

    Ask if any of the students have heard of the phrase ‘setting the bar’. It is believed to originate from the bar that can be placed at varying heights for a high jumper, but in this sense, it means fixing the standards that need to be met to qualify for something.

    The aim of the assembly is for the students to think about where they are setting the bar for themselves for this coming year by using the letters B, A and R.

  2. Show the image of the seesaw.

    B is for Balance. Throughout secondary school, it is important to find the right balance between work, play, homework, rest and spending time with friends and family. All of these are important, but at different times, you will need to prioritize them to cope with the various pressures.

  3. Show the YouTube video ‘The time you have (in jellybeans)’.

  4. Show the image of the aeroplane.

    A is for Attitude. Did you know that aircraft have an attitude indicator? This meter checks the aircraft’s position in relation to the horizon so that a pilot knows exactly how the aircraft is flying in the sky, even when there is poor visibility.

  5. Now listen to this story about a donkey who had a very positive attitude.

    The farmer was in a dilemma. ‘Stupid donkey!’ he muttered, peering down the deep hole into which his donkey had disappeared. ‘What am I going to do now? A donkey down a hole is no use to me and I can’t pull him out.’
    The farmer thought for a while before collecting his gun and lifting it to aim at the poor donkey.
    The donkey gazed back at the farmer with his sad, deep-brown eyes and the farmer slowly lowered his gun.
    ‘I can’t do it,’ he mumbled, as another thought sprang into his head. He hurried off to find his shovel.
    The donkey could hardly believe it as the soil began to rain down on his head.
    ‘Woe is me!’ he sighed. ‘Now I’m for it . . . I’ll be buried alive!’
    Then, he stopped and smiled to himself.
    ‘I don’t need to give up!’ he laughed, shaking the soil off his back so that it fell onto the floor of the hole.
    As the donkey repeated his move again and again, the soil fell to the floor and the donkey stepped onto it. As the mound grew, the donkey rose higher and higher until he was able to scramble out. The farmer was happy and the donkey was regarded as a genius!

  6. Just like the donkey in this story, the school year will present problems when things go wrong and we find things difficult. However, it is our attitude to these problems that is important. As Dumbledore said to Harry Potter, ‘It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.’

  7. Show the image of some friends enjoying a piggyback race.

    R is for Relationships. Every year, we have lots of opportunities to make new friends. These friends will have a huge influence on us – we often become like the people with whom we spend time. Let’s make sure that we make friends we can trust. People who encourage us, cheer us up and make us laugh. Let’s remember to value our friends and treat them in the way that we would like them to treat us.

  8. The Bible speaks about friendship in the Book of Ecclesiastes where it says, ‘Two are better than one, because . . . if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.’

Time for reflection

Ask the students, ‘Where will you set your bar for this year?’ Are you aiming high to achieve the best that you can possibly achieve? There’s still time to change before the end of the year.

Remember that balance, attitude and relationships will help you to set the bar high and reach the standard that you set yourself.

Dear God,
We are grateful for this school and the opportunity to learn.
Please help us to balance our lives.
Help us to work hard, but also to enjoy all the great opportunities that come our way.
Please help us to be good friends to each other and to maintain a positive attitude in all situations.


‘Beautiful day’ by U2, which expresses the excitement of a new day and of beginning something new.

‘That’s what friends are for’ by Dionne Warwick, which expresses the importance of friendships in our lives. It is available at:

Publication date: July 2021   (Vol.23 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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