Wayne Dixon reflects on assemblies.
When I was at primary school in East London I remember my Headteacher, Mr Windsor, taking assemblies and using large drawings as illustrations. They were like the outlines in the Good News Bible, only bigger. Assemblies are where you can make an ‘impression’ on a large group of people that can be built on elsewhere, as well as being ‘stand alone’. What drives this is the opportunity to give the listeners and watchers something of what Jesus said and did that still makes a connection TODAY. You start with where they are at and take them to where you want them to be! They are scary and nerve racking experiences STILL but I do love them; I’ve found them to be a platform for explaining who I am and what I believe. Despite the many changes over the years that are perhaps placing assemblies more on the fringe of school life, it is great that they are still being used by so many visitors who are able to contribute to this part of school life and make a difference. I have been encouraged.
In the early days most schools had some sort of assembly every day. Today that has changed significantly from maybe one assembly a week for a year group or part of a school, to ‘nothing’ for days. Exam season is a particular example especially because halls are useful venues for exams, meaning that assemblies are either shifted or cancelled. It is also very difficult to get the whole school together in one place. It is more common now to find year group, lower or senior school, or house assemblies becoming the norm in many schools. FLEXIBILITY is vital here for adapting to the on-going changes.
If you don’t feel able to lead an assembly on your own why not consider working with others and be part of an assembly team. When I started working for SU I remember one church group, Plan A from the River Church in Maidenhead, having a team going into schools and doing some great work. Today this continues with all sorts of combinations: ‘Open the Book’ is one that is developing and making a great impression. What I like about this is the flexibility of the project, and the fact that it is developing people to make a significant contribution over a consistent period of time. Every Thursday, or whatever day it is, a team will come in and do an assembly. It sticks, is very worthwhile and I trust it will continue while we still have the opportunities. To find out more about Open the Book check out www.openthebook.net