Allerton Primary School in Bradford has developed an assembly strategy where representatives from the local interfaith centre, local churches and youth workers come together in an assembly they have jointly planned with a teacher from the school.
The assembly visitors, referred to as ‘Friends of Allerton’, include representatives of Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Hindu faiths. Since 2008, the school’s cohesion innovation team and the ‘Friends of Allerton’ have lead assemblies together at least once every half term, modelled on friendship and conversation.
Themes have included ‘Names’; ‘Sports I played as a child’; ’My favourite story’; ‘The places I have lived and belonged’; and ‘How I like to relax’. Members of staff and the visitors share their own experiences on the theme and children reflect on their own preferences thus building in a very relaxed way an appreciation of diversity and identity.
In addition, assemblies are held which focus on one particular faith, with one of the faith representatives leading and the other adults modelling listening and showing respect for difference, or indeed supporting the assembly delivery.
This strategy was intentionally developed to actively model cohesive attitudes and help develop the children’s understanding of diversity and identity. This type of assembly activity is shown to work well in a diverse school such as Allerton Primary, but would be equally successful in other settings.
“What the children see is adults working together and enjoying themselves!” Manjit Kaur, Sikh Faith Tutor
“The presence of adults from different communities showing respect and interest in one another and exploring diversity is very powerful for children and staff.” Meg Henry, Lead Teacher
“The doors are open to us all the time and the school feels like a real community partnership. This is a very positive step for preparing children to live and work in the outside world.” Mohammed Mushtaq, Muslim Faith Tutor
To see a video showing this strategy in action visit http://www.teachersmedia.co.uk/videos/good-practice-in-two-schools