The Friends' School

Assemblies and Gatherings

A high quality school assembly is one of the most important aspects of a school’s curriculum. Its potential to nurture a positive school ethos that stresses care for the self, others and the pursuit of all forms of excellence should not be underestimated. It powerfully nurtures the development of intrapersonal intelligence.friends_1210_148a smaller

Every grade sits together in silence during weekly gatherings.

After this period of silence there is often a prompt. The prompt or theme is usually selected from student concerns, world events, peer and current issues, Quaker testimonies, or advices and queries. It sometimes comes spontaneously from someone within the meeting. Another period of silence follows during which the prompt is contemplated by the meeting, and then one or more of the participants may make a contribution – share an insight or reflection or question.

This forum provides regular opportunities to introduce timely mental health and wellbeing topics. Guest speakers are sometimes invited to address the meeting, and students can share their engagement and perspectives on the subject matter being contemplated. The prompts can also provide opportunities for students to practise inner stillness, mindfulness, breathing, reflection and deep listening. Some gatherings proceed in total silence for the duration, while others have a great deal of sharing.

In Morris, assemblies are held weekly and provide a forum for teaching and learning, highlighting and celebrating Quaker testimonies and the attributes and attitudes of the Primary Years Program (PYP).

In High School, assemblies are held two or three times a term, and have a rich and varied program. The High School Council (a group of elected student representatives) provides input into the focus of these gatherings, often inviting guest speakers.

IMG_9641In Clemes Collect, long tutor and assembly a wide variety of issues and strategies are presented to students, frequently by guest speakers, and these are followed up in tutor groups. In many cases the students elect to take action and support the organisations they have heard about – through either direct action or fundraising.

Examples from the program, initiated by both teachers and students include: A suicide prevention program – SPEAK UP Stay ChaTY; R U OK?; Small Steps – raising funds and awareness for at risk mothers; Lads Afternoon Delight – men’s mental health issues; Understanding LGBH – student speaker on gender identity diversity; Sleep hygiene; Exams and Wellbeing ; Mindset; Positive Education; Teen Mental Health First Aid.

A two day orientation program is also offered at the end of Year 10, preparing students for the Clemes experience.

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