Assemblies at Bishopstrow take place every day and are a distinctive and very important feature of the College’s academic and pastoral provision. In boarding, there are also frequent assemblies, but this introduction to assemblies is about those that take place at the beginning of every “school day”.
Most obviously, our assemblies provide a daily opportunity for all members of the College to meet together. This helps integrate all students with one another, and enables those who are most recently arrived to become known quickly by everyone and to settle in.
During assembly, students sit together in their Houses (Blake, Newton, Nightingale and Pankhurst) and work together in these mixed-age groups to participate in discussions. The assemblies, like everything else at the College, are designed to be an active process, encouraging students to participate, to think about issues, and to develop the confidence to speak in English in front of larger groups. It is an extraordinary skill of the Bishopstrow staff who lead assemblies that they can give confidence even to the newest students, with the lowest level of English, to stand up and say a word or two in English in front of everyone else. Over time, all students develop the confidence to contribute significantly to assemblies by discussing things in their house groups and by speaking up formally in front of the whole group.
Assembly topics are integrated with the PSHEE programme and provide an opportunity to explore the ideas which are also covered in tutorial lessons and diary writing. The programme is carefully integrated across the College so students have the opportunity to learn and ask questions about important personal, social, health and economic issues.
At the end of each week is “The Big Friday Assembly” at which students receive awards for Primary, Middle and Senior students of the Week, based on the number of Stars they have been awarded. All students can also receive Library Awards that recognise and celebrate their reading and their book reports. There is also a celebration of the House of the Week for the House that has the most Stars.
A popular feature on Friday is the “Phrase of the Week” where a pair of students will present a short performance to explain an English idiom such as “out of the blue” or “you’re pulling my leg”.
Far from being a formal and passive part of the day, Bishopstrow assemblies are active and enjoyable, generate discussion, promote confidence, and inspire students to speak up in English for themselves and their opinions.