Acting deputy head Sue Gregory tells Alan Combes how Burlington Danes voluntary-aided C of E School in Hammersmith and Fulham, west London, tackles assembly
The 11-16 school is on a split 1O-acre site with a connecting road between Burlington and Danes, which are 400 metres apart. 486 boys and 421 girls. Socially, culturally and ethnically mixed.
HOW IS ASSEMBLY ORGANISED?
It's impossible for the whole school to meet under one roof. So Years 7, 8 and 1O meet for assembly twice a week in one building; Years 9 and 11 have the same arrangement in another. Once a week, we have year assembly. The other two mornings we use 'Thought for the Day', published termly by the school worship team, comprising the chaplain, head of RE, deputy head and interested staff.
WHO TAKES ASSEMBLY?
School worship team members are joined by staff volunteers - 2O presenters in all. Students sometimes ask to take assembly. Recently we had a black history month when a group of students put on a presentation about black contributions to society. Every two to three weeks we use local clergy, charity organisers or local people.
SPECIAL FEATURES We have voluntary eucharists during the PSE programme, which are always well-attended. Music is often chosen by students. We make good use of visual aids. The presenters sometimes ask for volunteers, and the response is excellent. Outside speakers join in this ritual. Usually a small prize is given afterwards. A theme is chosen termly, which is divided into topics by the worship team. Each presenter then develops the idea. For example, for 'change', I have a quote about a leopard never changing its spots. I won't give too much away, but my visual aids are a picture of a leopard, a bottle of Clearasil and a student.
HOW DOES ASSEMBLY REFLECT THE SCHOOL'S ETHOS?
It reflects Christian teaching, but other faiths make an input. An important strand is the celebration of students' success.
One of our special needs staff, Julia Langton, has developed an intriguing role-play series called "Burlington Danes 90210". The students, coming on from various points, act out a drama that encourages discussion of a moral issue. From time to time, the action goes low-key and a narrator comes onstage and talks to the audience. The action always leaves off at a point where the audience has to guess what will happen next. It's becoming a cult attraction.