Assembly points;Interview;Paul Monaghan;Secondary

16th January 1998 at 00:00
Paul Monaghan, academic director at John Cabot Technology College, Bristol, tells Alan Combes how his school tackles assembly

THE SCHOOL

424 boys, 341 girls plus a small sixth form.

HOW DO YOU APPROACH ASSEMBLY?

Lower school (Years 7, 8 and 9) have assembly every Monday. Single-year assemblies take place on Tuesday to Thursday. Middle school meets every Friday. The sixth form meets separately for tutor-based assemblies.

OUTSIDE SPEAKERS

Janet King, author of several assembly books, has contributed to the assembly programme, which makes use of guest speakers and performing arts groups. Recently, a Diwali dance drama was staged for assembly and captured on video. We've also had the Salvation Army on homelessness; the captain of the sailing ship "Matthew" to talk about his reconstruction of Cabot's original journey from Bristol to Newfoundland; the armed forces; and talks from religious groups.

is there ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT YOUR ASSEMBLIES?

We've set up a database for year-to-year continuity, which is useful for events like Halloween, bonfire night, induction day. We also video our assemblies, and we're considering networking a regular "Thought for the Day" on a television link-up throughout the school.

RELEVANCE TO SCHOOL LIFE

Taking part and being active has been a central theme to the curriculum. We will now focus more on reflective and meditative processes. Our aim is to develop empathy and address the question "What can I do for others?" BEST ASSEMBLY

The "Awe and Wonder" assembly which took place during inspection. It was tied to the establishment of our new Gym Club. Originally, we had pupils performing tumbles and rolls, then explaining over a microphone about the confidence they had acquired through membership of the club. It evolved into a fully-fledged assembly which opened with me reading a poem about two frogs falling into a bowl of milk. One gave up and drowned, the other turned the milk into butter by churning with its legs.

Following this, two lines of pupils performed on trampettes and crash mats. The PE teacher gradually added more equipment until the group was performing progressively more sophisticated leaps and vaults.

The PA was playing circus-style music throughout. The readings and extracts that accompanied the display emphasised personal achievement and involvement, and the importance of social cohesion. The emphasis was on the "I will" aspect of pupil development.

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