Assembley Points;Interview;Susan Jones;Secondary

5th June 1998 at 01:00
Susan Jones, head of RE, talks to Alan Combes about assembly at the John Kyrle THE SCHOOL: High School in Herefordshire. Serves Ross-on-Wye and several outlying villages. It has 1,005 pupils, equal numbers of boys and girls, with 66 pupils on the special educational needs register. Has a special needs unit. Many pupils are bused into school.

HOW IS ASSEMBLY ORGANISED?: Most children attend four assemblies a week. As our main hall can hold only two year groups, that makes 17 assemblies a week, with an act of worship in most cases. I co-ordinate them.

ARE PUPILS INVOLVED?: In Year 7, all groups produce one assembly on a theme of their choice, which they perform in front of the year. But we have no tradition of pupil involvement beyond that except on special occasions such as Harvest Festival and Christmas.

DO YOU USE OUTSIDE SPEAKERS?: We have regular visitors from a variety of denominations (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, free Evangelical). This term we have addressed the multi-cultural dimension, with visits from Katy Keywood, a student on teaching practice in maths and science who was brought up in Saudi Arabia, Freda Davies, of the Jubilee 2000 campaign for Third World debt relief, and a group of students from Capenwray Bible School in Carnforth, Lancashire.

ANY SPECIAL ASSEMBLIES?: Each October the lower school holds a service of prayers, readings, hymns and dramatised stories, and sends a lorryload of supplies to Bosnia. Our Christmas carol services involve all of the school's musicians and the entire music department.

WHAT DID OFSTED SAY?: That we didn't conform to the law by having five assemblies a week for each pupil, but that the quality of our assemblies was "very good".

HOW IS ASSEMBLY CONNECTED TO THE SCHOOL'S ETHOS?: We hold assembly at the start of the school day so it sets the tone. And we openly celebrate individual and group successes. We value each pupil as an individual and aim to enable all our pupils to attain full potential in all areas - including moral, spiritual and social.

BEST ASSEMBLIES?: Pupils were fascinated to hear about Katy Keywood's life in a strictly Muslim country.

Freda Davies used a heavy chain to represent the burden of debt imprisoning the poorest people of the world and placed a lighted candle within the chain, symbolising hope for the future. We mounted a display, and pinned up copies of a petition calling for cancellation of economically developing nations' unpayable debt .

Our Bible college visitors, who were doing a week's placement at a local Baptist church, were from the United States, Uganda, The Netherlands and Norway. They led two assemblies, dramatising in modern form the parable of the Good Samaritan. Some weeks later, pupils were quoting this group of Bible students as examples of people making sacrifices to follow something they believe in.

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