Headteacher Joy Hancock tells Alan Combes how Bromley High School for Girls, south-east London, tackles morning assembly
An independent girls' school with 33O juniors (4-11), 330 secondary pupils (11-16) and 75 sixth-formers. Last year it achieved the best GCSE results in the country.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH ASSEMBLY?
On special occasions like Harvest, Christmas or valedictory, we assemble the entire age range, but during term time it's held for 15 minutes first thing in the morning and split into junior and senior groupings.
Assembly is used as an exercise in democratic choice by allowing each form to select its own theme. That assembly will be shown in a particular week and its theme developed by other assemblies taken by staff and outside speakers.
We are academic, but we value music, art and drama highly. A music group went to Australia and presented an assembly on this theme. Similarly, the Lower Sixth World Challenge group, who visited Uganda last summer, will talk about their varied experiences. Even the younger ones, the five and six-year-olds might take an assembly on their visits to a museum or a farm.
We pride ourselves on a wide range of speakers such as the Bishop of Rochester. Groups like the Runnymede Trust make an invaluable contribution to issues like multi-racial understanding and often inspire projects.
ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL?
We actually have a committee of about 2O pupils and staff which has produced a pilot assembly book of its own. It contains hymns, songs, sayings and prayers and will be professionally printed during 1998.
DO YOU FOCUS ON THE PUPILS?
Last year we recognised the achievements of many pupils who had "slipped through the net" by introducing environment awards in assembly. We also use assembly to profile music and drama.
RELEVANCE TO SCHOOL LIFE
We don't use assembly to push exams at the pupils, but it is important in introducing them to new ideas and concepts, in extending their areas of interest.
Last year an old girl came to us to talk about the Peckham Settlement at nearby New Cross. It is a mission where volunteers go in to work with and help children from difficult homes. It highlighted the high level of deprivation which is "just around the corner" from us. The proof of its effectiveness came with the number of Year 11 students who volunteered to help at the settlement.