Twenty-First Century School Assembly and Classroom Activities

By: Will Ryan


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 210mm x 280mm
Pages : 224
ISBN : 9781781350072
Format: PaperbackCDROM
Published: March 2014

If you did the calculations you would discover that during their primary school years, a child will spend roughly 70 days in assembly, and possibly a further 52 days during their secondary years. This can be either time that is simply lost and forgotten or hours that can be used to make a difference - to create confident individuals and responsible, deep-thinking citizens for the future. For young people growing up in the twenty-first century, life can seem very complex with many things to worry about: issues such as global warming, depleted natural resources and how we can all live together harmoniously in rapidly changing communities. The generation of children currently passing through our schools will have to resolve these issues for us. This will be achieved partly through the skills and intelligence they gather and partly through the development of a spiritual intelligence that will enable them to become good citizens and do the right things at the right time - which is the focus of this unique book. Will Ryan has created a resource that will allow busy school leaders and teachers to deliver outstanding assemblies that make a beneficial impression on the lives of the young people listening.

Part I, Our World in the Twenty-First Century, aims to help children to become responsible global citizens who will help to change the world for the better. While Part 2, Creating Responsible Citizens in Our Schools and Communities, aims to promote a sense of aspiration and ambition within learners and also provide ideas for how they can make a positive difference to the school and the locality.

Each assembly idea is presented in three ways:

Three Star Assemblies: “Help, I’ve hardly any time to plan an assembly!” For these assemblies, you can simply pick up the book and read the story or account and follow the activities planned.

Four Star Assemblies: These are for the occasions when you’ve got a bit longer to prepare, gather resources or get the children involved.

Five Star Assemblies: Perhaps it is because Ofsted are about to arrive, but you want this assembly to be the best assembly ever!

The book is aimed at Key Stages 2 and 3 (ages 7–14) and contains beautiful and thought-provoking colour photographs throughout, which are included on a free accompanying CD, making it even easier to jump straight into outstanding assemblies. The resources are also ideal for circle times, citizenship or PSHE lessons and philosophy for children (P4C) sessions.

Picture for author Will Ryan

Will Ryan

Will Ryan has worked in schools in South Yorkshire for over forty years as a teacher, head teacher and local authority adviser. As a head teacher he led a school that prized itself on genuine pupil creativity and was described by Ofsted as outstanding'. He is a speaker and Associate of Independent Thinking Ltd.

Click here to read Will Ryan’s blog.


  1. Brilliant pick- up- and- use ideas in here not only for assemblies but also PSHE sessions and as starting points for P4C discussion. Sessions seek to develop vital values for the twenty- first century.
  2. Will Ryan has put together a brilliantly presented insight into how to make school assemblies meaningful, inspirational and thought provoking. On reflection of my own experience in taking assemblies and being a recipient of many badly planned, off the cuff knee jerk reactions to “incidents” from the previous day, I would have relished having access to many of the ideas put forward so well by Will Ryan. In common with the author, I consider all those responsible for taking / organising school assemblies or even family worship in chapels / churches should reflect on whether their current activities pass what Ryan describes as the three generation test. That is, “the children remember them in the short term, they still remember them when they become parents, and finally they are able to tell their grandchildren about them”. Material for themes is presented in a stimulating layout with the emphasis on capturing the thoughts of the audience with features such as the “six word slogan stories” or promotion of “six powerful words” to capture the theme of the assembly and develop “further enquiry” linked to good use of technology. This book is a must buy for all schools and church communities who are keen to make their assemblies more about listening and thinking, relevant, stimulating and though provoking rather than merely telling and doing.
  3. OK, I have to be honest in admitting that I am somewhat of a Will Ryan -˜fanboy', so was very interested to see what he could do with the traditional school assembly. There was no way that a Will Ryan assembly could be traditional, was there? I got my copy at school and lost the next hour going through the different themes, which are brave but so vital for children growing up in this world. As Will says in his book, Inspirational Teachers Inspirational Learners, -˜Children get just one childhood and it should be memorable and life forming'. He shows that this includes what can be the dullest part of the school day.
    I decided to trial one of the assemblies that afternoon, choosing -˜Buy One Get One Free: Is it a good thing or a bad thing?'. I chose to go for a four star assembly and so entered the hall clutching some packets of strawberries and raspberries. Whilst this allowed me to grab the children's attention, what was clear was that Will's approach to these assemblies grabs the children, challenging their perceptions but making them think about the world in which they are growing up.

    This book gives teachers the chance to use assemblies to bring awe, wonder and spirituality into school which is something that Will has sought to do not only as a Head but also as an advisor. This book will challenge your children to consider the questions which are sometimes uncomfortable but vital to tackle.
    I love the idea of the three different tariffs of assembly on offer -” it does mean that it is a gift from above for the no-notice assembly but also a great resource for the all-singing variety. Thank you, Will!
  4. This book is a real treasure trove of ideas for assemblies which will inspire children to think deeply about some of the key issues facing them and the world today. The pictures, stories and themes it contains will capture children's imaginations and ensure they continue to think about your assembly far beyond the 15 minutes they are sat in the hall.

    What I love most about this book is how it can be used in so many different ways -” you can literally open it at any page and have a ready-made, high quality assembly at your fingertips or use it to launch a whole week's worth of exciting classroom activities. It is also a life-saver for those times when you need an assembly that will really impress! 

    Will Ryan has produced an invaluable resource for busy teachers and school leaders alike. This is a book that I know I will return to again and again.
  5. This extensive resource offers teachers and schools a wealth and breadth of thought-provoking opportunities for reflection, based on current, global and historical issues central to good citizenship and the common good. These opportunities might be developed further in a prayerful context, particularly in faith schools.
  6. Will Ryan continues to inspire a generation of teachers with his new publication, 21st Century School Assembly and classroom activities. Challenging and thought-provoking subject matter, coupled with incredible photography, ensure that both child and practitioner are hooked and as a result push the boundaries beyond what many would consider a child's capability.

  7. Wow! This is a -˜must have' for all of us who lead school assemblies and want to engage with pupils with relevant world issues that will touch their hearts and open their minds. Will Ryan's book is a rich and thought-provoking resource for assemblies and classroom work. Will's spiritually uplifting and challenging text, combined with Jane Hewitt's superb mind-grabbing photographs, puts this book in a league of its own. I am delighted to recommend it to schools, as it will give pupils a truly educative and uplifting experience, helping them to develop all aspects of themselves as humane people.

  8. What a stimulating and thought provoking resource! The content is current and topical and presented in a thought-provoking manner. The excellent quality of the pictures sets the emotive backcloth for relevant thought and reflection.

Write your own review