Morning assembly in schools is one of the most important elements of the school curriculum. This may not be generally understood. Well planned assemblies can contribute greatly to academic and behavioural excellence in any school and wise principals and administrators make full use of this potential.
Morning assemblies can include the entire school community or they may be partial assemblies which pertain to year groups, gender-based groups or any special interest groups in the school. They all have similar characteristics and outcomes but this post focuses mainly on full morning assembly.
School assembly should start on time. Staff and students should be present and students should be attentive, quiet and in their allotted places. This speaks to the issue of discipline. Assembly provides a calm, settled start to a day of learning. It puts the students into a reflective mood and prepares them for the classroom.
Assembly fosters a sense of community and a positive ethos. During the ceremony values are passed on to students. They learn, among other things, cooperation, honesty, respect for self and others, diligence, perseverance, punctuality, the importance of excellence in all school activities, respect for rules and they are given moral and spiritual guidance for everyday life as well as an awareness of pressing social issues.
School assembly is not just about the reading of announcements, news, instructions and prayers (in countries where public prayer is allowed in schools). Wise administrators communicate high expectations to the students and they celebrate significant school achievements. Excellent performances by students, in all school activities, are showcased during this time and meritorious student efforts are publicly recognized and reinforced with praise and awards. This takes place in the presence of the full student body and the younger ones are given goals to aim at.
Students develop an understanding of what their school stands for and they identify with it. They see what makes their school stand out from the others. The singing of the national anthem and the school song and the celebration of days of national significance, like independence day, inculcate national pride, good citizenship and school pride. They do not want to let down their school.
Expert speakers and distinguished Old Scholars who are invited to speak to students at assembly support the principal in sensitizing students to the rich culture, history and legacy of the school. They are inspired to emulate the high achievements of past and present students of their institution. Themes chosen for school assembly and quotations from famous persons set the bar even higher. Students should be allowed to participate in the assembly and the principal should always state the mission and goals of the school.
School assembly should not be seen as a routine to be run through quickly and taken for granted. It creates a sense of unity and belonging and leads to excellence in achievement. It is also great for setting the right school tone.