WATCH: The Highland school keeping assemblies alive

School hosts 'phenomenal' online assembly to keep up pupils' spirits and maintain a sense of continuity

Henry Hepburn

Coronavirus: The Highland school keeping assemblies alive with videos posted online

A Scottish primary school is carrying on with its assemblies, in an ingenious attempt to maintain routine and contact with pupils during the coronavirus lockdown.

Drakies Primary, in Inverness, has posted its first "virtual assembly", a 20-minute video focusing on the school's values, and plans to make this a regular event.

The first assembly featured a welcome song that pupils are used to belting out in school, as well as a temporary assembly "hall"  the front room of headteacher Scott Callander, where he is joined by his two young sons  and shout-outs for pupils who have done something memorable.

There are also messages from other teachers, an update on which school house has racked up the most points, a quote of the week from American poet Maya Angelou, and a video of the week highlighting the importance of kindness.

The school received enthusiastic comments after sharing the assembly online, with another Inverness school, Raigmore Primary, tweeting: "Fantastic assembly!!! Great job neighbours!!"

Keeping the school community together in coronavirus lockdown

The mother of one pupil who received a shout-out tweeted a video showing the excited reaction of her daughter, and said: "Thank you all for what you are doing, such a fantastic school."

Quick read: Why whole-school assemblies must never die

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Others said the school's assembly was a "fantastic concept" and "phenomenal work", while one educator said it "made my morning!".

There was praise, too, for the outtakes at the end of the assembly capturing something that usually remains off-camera but which many teachers will be familiar with as they grapple with online learning: one persistent teacher's exasperation as he makes numerous attempts to strike the right tone.

Drakies Primary plans to make its virtual assemblies a regular feature, and to share them freely online.

In an essay in February for Tes Scotland, Susan Ward wrote that the school assembly is "part of the fabric of school life", and that "moving or cancelling it creates a day-muddling crinkle in the otherwise smooth running of the weekly timetable".

In a 2019 article for Tes, Emma Turner described school assemblies as "a moment to be elsewhere, to reset", where staff and students can see they are part of "something bigger, something greater, something more than the sum of its parts".

Tes Scotland has written about many of the inspiring ways in which schools, nurseries and colleges have responded to the coronavirus outbreak. One primary in Fife shared tips after starting its own TV channel.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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