Assembly Ideas

Reading time: 4


In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday...
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How do you prepare for leading school assemblies?

Starting out as a teacher, I was terrified at public speaking in assemblies and staff briefings. However, when starting out in middle leadership, I discovered I had no choice. I had to speak and present on behalf of my faculty.

Today, I’m glad to report, that I thrive on leading assemblies. But, it took some time to realise that there is a certain way to go about planning and presenting any information shared. Typically, assemblies are academically focused, ethos-related or personal to you or the school. Leading an assembly gives you the time to reflect on school-life and current affairs. When speaking, you take that all-important step to communicating a coherent message, one that must be sensitively pitched for the hundreds of students that sit before you.

Inspired by Tom Sherrington, and following my own assembly format, I have shared some of my existing resources below and then some recent thoughts on assembly plans inspired by content online.

Assembly ideas:

  1. Last year, I prepared an End of Term assembly which is the reason for this blogpost. This resource can be adapted to suit any age/stage and the assembly concentrates on academic timing, population statistics and famous one-off events and/or people dotted around the key message; ‘what happens in your life-time?’
A screenshot of all 47 slides... by @TeacherToolkit
A screenshot of all 47 slides… by @TeacherToolkit
  1. The importance of reading and assembly resource here.
The importance of reading assembly preview by @TeacherToolkit
The importance of reading assembly preview by @TeacherToolkit

3. What makes a family? You can download this assembly and adapt the resources to make it your own to suit your own family and the context of your school.The presentation discusses oldest, middle and youngest siblings.

Click to download
Click to download
  1. Revision: A few simple revision techniques for Year 11 students. The presentation also includes a personal example of my performance at GCSE and University, highlighting what happens when you do not make the grade. Download here.
Click to download
Click to download
  1. eSafety: An assembly for your school hall or tutor groups. Includes video links to cyberbullying; CEOP; the latest law governing mobile phones. Includes good practice SMART targets. Download here.
Click to download
Click to download


You can use my 5 Minute Assembly Plan template to organise your next assembly.

The 5 Minute Assembly Plan
The 5 Minute Assembly Plan

YouTube inspiration:

The beauty of YouTube, is that we can all find something we are looking for. Here are my top picks; some you may know and others I have sourced:

Koh Panyee:

  • Intended audience: 11-14 year olds.
  • Length: 5 minutes
  • Theme: Working together to build dreams.

A film to inspire people to start thinking differently. This film is based on a true story. In 1986 a football team that lived on a little island in the south of Thailand called “Koh Panyee”. It’s a floating village in the middle of the sea that has not an inch of soil. The kids here loved to watch football but had nowhere to play or practice. But they didn’t let that stop them. They challenged the norm and have become a great inspiration for new generations on the island.

I forgot my phone:

  • Intended audience: 14-18 year olds.
  • Length: 2 minutes
  • Theme: Thoughts on how we communicate.

This video stars Los Angeles actress, Charlene deGuzman. In ‘I Forgot My Phone’, Charlene is shown doing a variety of activities – in her day-to-day life – which are all disrupted by someone’s incessant use of a mobile phone. It’s a timely reminder for every student growing up in a world of technology where they know, no different. I didn’t have my first mobile phone until I was 25 years old;

Joe Kittinger:

  • Intended audience: 11-18 year olds.
  • Length: 7 minutes
  • Theme: Taking risks for mankind.

The highest step in the world. This is an annotated video of Joseph William Kittinger II (born July 27, 1928), a former United States Air Force who participated in Project Excelsior in 1960, setting the record longest skydive from a height greater than 31 kilometres (19 mi). He was also the first man to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a gas balloon and the first human to observe the curvature of the Earth. You can find shorter versions for assembly purposes and for teachers, the book – which is a fabulous read for those with rapid imagination – is here: The Man Who Touched The Sky.

There is also the modern version of this balloon jump by Felix Baumgartner in 2012. The full version is here which shows Felix in slow motion at 817 mph with a heart-rate exceeding 190+ beats per minute! I have copied a shorter video version of Felix’s jump below which also features some lovely footage of  Joe Kittinger with Felix throughout his own journey to reach the sky!

Derek Redmond:

  • Intended audience: 7-18 year olds.
  • Length: 3 minutes
  • Theme: Failure, hope and determination.

This share this video, courtesy of a motivational assembly I watched @ActionJackson give to my own students. There are plenty of versions with annotations and emotive music, and I’m sure most of you know the video very well. I have copied below the Olympics version.

The following videos are added mainly for my readers, and I’m sure after you have watched them, you may find a nugget of gold for yourself and your students.

The Last Lecture:

  • Intended audience: 16+ year olds.
  • Length: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Theme: Illness, hope and life.

One of my all-time favourites stories which I will be blogging about soon. On September 18, 2007, Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus Randy Pausch delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that made the world stop and pay attention. The book is also a must read. This video-clip is offered to you in full, so you will need to research a small snippet to show. There are smaller editions available.

1.3m reasons to re-invent the syringe:

  • Intended audience: 14+ year olds.
  • Length: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Theme: Illness, hope and life.

This video is suitable for key stage 4-5 students. Marc Koska: Reuse of syringes, all too common in under-funded clinics, kills 1.3 million each year. Marc Koska clues us in to this devastating global problem with facts, photos and hidden-camera footage. He shares his solution: a low-cost syringe that can’t be used twice. It’s a genius idea that can save millions of lives!

Marc Koska

Never, Ever Give Up:

  • Intended audience: 5-18 year olds.
  • Length: 5 minutes
  • Theme: Weight-gain, health and determination.

A great lesson on perseverance for all of us. Forwarded by @WatsEd

#StephensStory – When life gives you cancer:

  • Intended audience: 11-18+ year olds.
  • Length: 9 minutes
  • Theme: Life, illness, cancer, motivation; charity and community.

I will add more videos – particularly for key stage 1 and 2 (4-11 years old) over the coming days. Please forward your suggestions or add the below.

You can use my 5 Minute Assembly Plan template to organise your next assembly.


5 thoughts on “Assembly Ideas

  1. Thanks Ross – am sure many assembly planners will find these resources really useful.

    Like you, I remember how nervous I was taking my first assemblies (I was 25 and in the first post which gave me pastoral responsibility) but with time, experience and growing confidence I found I relished the opportunity to share something which had made me think and which I hoped might make others (pupils and staff) think, too. As a head, it’s an important platform for communicating your personal vision and values – it’s one way in which you make your mark as a school leader.

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