Assembly lines

11th July 1997 at 01:00
THE SENSITIVE ISSUES ASSEMBLY FILE. Edited by Gerald Haigh. Pounds 39. 50

STARTING OUT. By Gordon Aspland. Southgate Pounds 8.50

From time to time a primary school head needs to address the whole school about an issue or event that requires more careful handling than those covered in the usual morning assemblies. These issues and events arise infrequently or are one-offs and unpredictable. So heads will often lack experience and be ill-prepared. Enter The Sensitive Issues Assembly File.

The first section of this ring-bound folder covers assemblies which may be needed as a response - often immediate - to a specific tragedy or crisis such as the death of a child after a prolonged illness or serious damage to the school caused by fire, flood or vandalism. The second includes assemblies about more general and less pressing issues such as dealing with rumours about Aids.

The range of issues covered is impressive, from the perennial problem of bullying, to preparing the school for a child using a wheelchair. There are some that many heads would never dream would arise: an international crisis or the threat of war; unexpected refugees in school; the closure of a major employer.

Each assembly includes background notes about the issues involved, preparation needed, and a "script" for the assembly itself with a prayer and a secular "thought". The scripts are well thought out and deal with the issues comprehensively and clearly.

However, particularly with some of the more emotive issues, heads should have strong reservations about the clinical verbatim reading of a script written by an outsider. Used as a model, however, they would be fine.

In a lighter vein, my wife has already bagged my copy of Starting Out for her infant class. It is a slim, spiral-bound book containing 20 delightful five-minute stories for infant children "for assemblies and PSE".

Each story has an underlying theme or moral such as respect for other people's property, or coping when things go wrong. Children will readily identify with the stories, which are all about the same group of children from the same class. The stories show that the author knows infant classes well. Each one is accompanied by suggestions for discussion and a prayer.

Dip into it at the end of the day, use it as part of a personal and social education programme, use it in assembly. You will enjoy it as much as the children will.

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