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Open Gates

An assembly for the start of a new school year

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To consider the importance of taking the opportunities presented in a new school year.

Preparation and materials


  1. Start by welcoming the students to the new school year.

    Comment that many of the students will have visited new places during the summer holidays. Point out that many of them may well have seen examples of the things that are going to be considered in today’s assembly.

  2. Explain that you are going to show the students a series of six images, which show gates that are found in different parts of the world. You would like them to look at the gates and see whether they recognize them.

    You may wish to ask the students to respond by guessing the name and location of the gates. Alternatively, you may wish to allow a short time for the students to consider the answer before informing them of the correct answer.

  3. Show the images of famous gates and give a small amount of information after each one.

    The Golden Gate is thought to be the oldest gate in the current city walls of Jerusalem.

    The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate the victories of the Napoleonic Wars.

    The Tiananmen, the entrance to the Imperial City in Beijing, was originally finished in 1420, but it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current gate was built in 1970.

    The India Gate in New Delhi is a memorial to 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died in the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919.

    The Siegestor in Munich was originally completed in 1852 as a monument to the Bavarian Army. It sustained heavy damage during the Second World War, but was later restored.

    The Arcade du Cinquantenaire is in the centre of Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels. It was completed in 1905 and commemorates Belgium’s independence in 1831.

  4. Point out that gates come in all different shapes and sizes. The ones in the pictures that we have just seen are well-known, ornate gates, but even this morning, the students will have passed through several gates.

    Ask the students to think about their journey to school this morning. How many gates did they pass through? Examples could include a gate at home, the park gates and the school gates.

  5. Explain that most of the gates that we pass through every day are familiar to us. We know what to expect when we pass through our school gates or our gate at home. However, in our lives, there are ‘gates of opportunity’ that we all experience.

  6. Point out that, as we start a new school year, we will all get opportunities to try new things. It may be that we are starting at high school for the first time, so everything is new. Maybe we have been at this school for a while, but this year, we have the opportunity to get to know a new teacher, try a new sport or activity, meet new people and make new friends.

  7. Each new opportunity that we are given is like a gate. We can choose to keep the gate shut rather than walking forward and passing through it. If we do this, we will never take the opportunities that are given to us.

    Alternatively, we can open the gate and walk through it, experiencing whatever the new opportunity has to offer. Sometimes, what we find on the other side may be difficult and we may decide that we don’t like it, but at least we have had a new experience to take with us into the rest of our lives.

  8. This coming year will be full of new opportunities. Encourage the students to take any opportunity that comes their way and to try lots of new things.

Time for reflection

Ask the students to consider the following questions.

- Can you remember a time when you tried something new? Perhaps it was your first day at school, your first swimming lesson or the first time you tried to ride a bike without stabilizers.

Pause to allow time for thought.

- How did you feel? You probably felt a bit worried. Trying new things takes courage: you have to be brave enough to step forward and have a go, even though you aren’t certain what will happen.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Why not make a decision that this week, you will try as many new things as possible? If you are new to the school, you will get lots of opportunities.

Dear God,
Thank you for all the opportunities that we have in this world.
At the start of this new school year, please help us to have the courage always to try new things
And to take the opportunities that come our way.

Publication date: August 2018   (Vol.20 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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