How to... prepare an assembly

I've got a whole-school assembly to give - where do I start?

The old way was to have a hymn, a message and a prayer. But why not spend some time involving your class? Though it takes some organisation, it's more effective if lots of people are involved.

And do what?

Write and perform a play, or deliver different points of view. Dress up, even just wearing odd hats or use simple props. Add music or a slide-show to avoid talking heads.

But this could take weeks.

All the better to provide a purposeful and useful activity. To create a structure, write the bare bones yourself and have the children put their own words in the gaps. An introduction by a narrator then several examples, quotes or points of view - each one spoken by a different character. Get them involved.

So what about suitable topics?

Even if religious collective worship is not your big thing, there should be some clear moral message or worthy intention.

Like do as you would be done to, or respect your parents... And your teachers, of course. So you could cover kindness, generosity, respect, helping each other, responsibility, thinking of others, taking care of the environment, behaving appropriately with your family, the school community, picking up litter, helping charities, being clean in thought, word and deed.

With Florence Nightingale and Nelson Mandela as speakers?

Fully booked for eternity, I believe, but mention or quote from them in passing, along with Jesus, Muhammad, Guru Nanak, Gandhi, Mother Teresa... Uncle Tom Cobbley... ... and other folk heroes, heroines, sporting figures and people of good character, not forgetting the chair of governors, myself and similar kindly folk.

But I need something topical for tomorrow.

Such impatience. Check a topical events calendar. Try the Count Me In Calendar ( for charities. And Teachernet gives anniversaries and festivals, plus a sample assembly.

Why didn't you say?

Because the best assemblies are the ones you create yourself, with help from your little friends. I'll be sitting at the back with my hymn book taking notes Duncan Grey is author of The First Aid Kit for Teachers, 100+ Essential Lists for Teachers and Getting the Buggers to Learn (Continuum)

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