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What were your school assemblies like?

(21 Posts)
Grandma70s Sun 01-Mar-20 14:09:10

School assemblies now seem so different from the ones I was brought up with. My granddaughter (7) recently had one that included a version of Walk Like an Egyptian, and quite a lot of dressing up and performing is involved.

Our school assemblies in the 1940s and 1950s were strictly religious, although I never went to a church school. They were in the school hall, and called ‘Prayers’ rather than ‘Assembly’. We always had a hymn (to piano accompaniment by the music mistress), the Lord’s Prayer and at least one other prayer, a Bible reading, a short address from the head - did she really do that every day? - and, in senior school, a daily psalm sung to Anglican chant. We had Hymns of the Kingdom (green cover) and the Oxford Psalter, a little squat brown book which I loved dearly. We knelt with bare knees on the bare wooden floor, or sat cross-legged for readings. The staff had the luxury of chairs. Then there were the ‘notices’. At this point the few girls who didn’t join in Prayers would enter. They were Jewish or Roman Catholic. At the end we filed out (in silence, naturally) to piano music played by one of the pupils. This was enjoyable, except when it was my turn to play.

I was not in the least religious, but I loved every minute. A beautiful, tranquil start to our days.


BlueBelle Sun 01-Mar-20 14:22:43

I went to a church school but I don’t remember that much religion I think we said the Lords prayer sang a hymn and had a little speech by the head of any news or happenings We stood in rows perpendicular to the stage and if it was going to be a longer address we sat down on the floor in our lines
I think it was 15 mins long

EllanVannin Sun 01-Mar-20 14:23:46

I remember it being very orderly and everyone in full uniform including beret and blazer with the monogram sewn on.
A prayer to start with, then a passage from the Bible, usually a Psalm, a hymn another prayer and piano music on exit to our classrooms. Hymns and passages from the Bible were seasonal and we knew what to expect every year and knew each off by heart.
You could hear a pin drop ! It wasn't allowed to be any other way with most of the teachers in that school.

Oopsadaisy3 Sun 01-Mar-20 14:27:14

Grandma ours was almost the same as yours , in our Primary School, except that as we filed in, we had to hold our hands out to be inspected for cleanliness for the Head Mistress , then our shoes and socks were looked at by the teachers.

At Secondary it was just hymns and prayers.

TrendyNannie6 Sun 01-Mar-20 14:33:51

Our school assemblies lasted I would say probably 20 mins, we all lined up class behind classes, in we all came sat on little wooden benches, the headmaster stood in middle of the stage curtains drawn to the back of him, all the form teachers sat with their pupils they sat at the end, we had two hymns, the Lord’s Prayer, then the headmaster would ask each one of the teachers to come forward if they had any news etc, at the end the headmaster would say a few more words, then each class would walk back out, forgot to say as we all came in we brought our hymn books

paddyanne Sun 01-Mar-20 14:35:52

No assembly in Primary ,a prayer to start the day in class.Only rare assmblies in secondary school even though it was a convent school ,again a prayer at the start of the day and grace before meals in the dinner hall .We did have RE lessons but I can honestly say we were never "indocrinated" as I hear others say about Catholic schools .

jura2 Sun 01-Mar-20 14:38:35

non-existent ;)

Callistemon Sun 01-Mar-20 14:42:50

We had silence for five minutes in the morning and woe betide anyone who said a word, shuffled or sighed during that time. Then a C of E assembly Prayers, hymns, the Lord's Prayer and there was probably a reading or short talk by the Head but my mind had probably wandered off somewhere by then.
Some pupils were chosen to play the piano - I always wanted to be good enough to be on stage playing but never was.

Cabbie21 Sun 01-Mar-20 14:48:50

Mine were as described, both at primary and secondary schools, and also the schools I taught in. Some days latterly there were so many notice, or awards, that the religious bit was omitted. Once a week, a class led the assembly, with maybe a short sketch or other item to illustrate a topic of their choice.
A huge chore was setting out and clearing away all the chairs, though in the schools where I was a pupil we sat on the floor ( no shoes allowed ).

Witzend Sun 01-Mar-20 14:48:53

Hymns, prayers, any announcements, exhortations.
And sometimes hymn practice, if there was a new one, or a new tune. I loved the traditional hymns and still do, not that I ever get a chance to sing them any more, except at weddings and funerals.
The head music teacher was brilliant. Our school choir would now and then be recorded by the Beeb for what is now Radio 3. And it was a state school, in case anyone’s wondering.

oldgimmer1 Sun 01-Mar-20 14:52:39

I like Assembly.

Firstly our headmistress would swan up, chins a-wobble, in her gown.

We'd have a collective bollocking, then a hymn.

It would be O Lord and Father of Mankind usually, and followed by the Lord's Prayer. We would be played out to a jaunty classical tune on the piano.

For some reason, we'd recite the Welsh version of Our Father on a Friday.

merlotgran Sun 01-Mar-20 14:55:45

Our assemblies were very formal. A pupil would play the piano as we all filed in (in silence) We sat cross legged on the floor. I used to love some of the regular pieces that were played and always envied their talent. A music mistress would then take over to play for the morning hymn, the headmistress would give a daily address then move on to announcements, usually sporting and academic achievements. There would be a short prayer then we'd all file out to something a bit more uplifting.

On the first day we always sang, Lord Behold Us With Thy Blessing and on the last day, Lord Dismiss us.....etc. We would also sing the school song, 'Forty Years On' which we nicked from Harrow! grin

May7 Sun 01-Mar-20 14:56:04

We had daily assembly and girls sat on their bent legs and kneeled for prayers on a polished wooden floor Girls constantly fainting throughout the 20 mins. Always felt like a power thing to me. It was a Grammar school and crazy Head mistress was C of E. How I longed to be one of the RC girls so I didnt have to attend.
Quite often came in late and got detention which was preferable to me

arthursfam Sun 01-Mar-20 15:09:08

Ours we very similar to the ones mentioned so far, but we always marched out to “An English Country Garden”
At the end of the summer term when some finishing their schooling we sang “God be in my head and on my understanding”.
The last line was
God be at my end and at my departing!

TerriBull Sun 01-Mar-20 15:20:42

From age 11, I went to a convent school and we had to line up in lines form by form, with the shortest person at the front, all those behind going up by graduating heights, fortunately I was somewhere in the middle, but two friends who were both at the short end and were forever destined to be at the front, fought daily over who was going to be in that unfortunate position. That poor first person would be subject to the head nun's scrutiny. Then we had the usual hymns and announcements before we filed out. As we did this, the aforementioned head would then pull over anyone who dared deviate from the regulation school shoes, we were forced to purchase these in the most expensive shoe shop in the town, a ladida Russell and Bromley type of emporium. We found out that our nuns had some sort of kickback arrangement as it was incumbent upon us to mention the school whenever we bought a pair. Possibly those purchases transferred into some tacit form of credit arrangement for them and a pair of nun's bovver boots were supplied free of charge from time to time. Apocryphal rumour it may well have been. Although on a similar theme, as a pupil you had a number of bargaining strategies open to you, for instance, the requisite amount of Green Shield stamps could get you out of a detention. I think our nuns had misplaced their vocation, running a cartel would have suited them far better than running a school imo hmm

sodapop Sun 01-Mar-20 15:22:19

We had the full works too, hymns, readings and an address from one of the staff. We all had to sit cross legged on the floor whilst the staff were on chairs on the stage. We had to wear indoor shoes inside and had a little cubbyhole for our outdoor shoes underneath our coat pegs. Such memories

Calendargirl Sun 01-Mar-20 15:24:52

C of E Primary School. Hymns, prayers, notices. We stood in lines, youngest at front, oldest at back. A prefect was at the end of the lines, if anyone felt faint or sick the prefect had to accompany them outside. I always fancied myself doing that, felt important!
Grammar School. Hymns, prayers, notices. Headmaster used to sweep in wearing his gown, he was tall and thin, rather like a majestic crow. Sometimes someone fainted as we were all standing, it created a diversion. Can remember a particularly pretty girl collapsing, nearby boys leapt forward to assist! Some bitchy ones among us felt she put it on for attention as it happened on more than one occasion.
Enjoyed the hymns, always remember ‘Jerusalem’ was a popular one even with the most hardened atheist amongst us! When the head announced ‘Hymn number 446’ and the organ struck up, it was sung with such gusto and feeling.
Whenever I hear it now, I am transported back to that school hall and schooldays.

annodomini Sun 01-Mar-20 15:53:50

In primary school we had a hymn and the Lord's prayer every morning in class; in secondary, we went to the assembly hall and stood through much the same, plus any announcements the Rector wanted to make. Any whispering or (worse) giggling was noted and dealt with by form teachers.

MamaCaz Sun 01-Mar-20 16:53:34

My primary school (1960s) was C of E, and assemblies always included traditional hymns and the Lord's Prayer.
Despite that, acting was definitely involved sometimes.
Each class in the school, which was quite large, took turns at playing an active part in the assembly. Sometimes, this was nothing more than pupils in that class reading out prayers or poems that they had written themselves, but sometimes it would involve a short play, though I don't remember if any dressing up was involved.

In secondary school, assemblies were, with hindsight, very perfunctory. There were still hymns, though I could no longer join in with them anyway as they were never in the right key for me! Apart from that, all I remember about them is our headmaster occasionally using them as an opportunity to lecture us all on our behaviour, based on some random misdemeanor that had been committed one unidentified individual.
These were the only occasions when I ever saw our head in the whole of my five years at that school, and whatever he hoped to achieve with his rantings was certainly lost on me. I felt it was so unfair to rant at us as we were all guilty. I despised him from afar!

M0nica Sun 01-Mar-20 19:16:30

My secondary school was a convent and Assemblies were almost religion free as I remember because all children attended them. Each day started with a period of Religious study. Separate for catholics and protestants. The Jewish girls went to another classroom to work on their homework, as I remember.

LadyGracie Sun 01-Mar-20 19:20:34

I went to schools mainly on RAF bases, my biggest and clearest memory of assembly, apart from not enjoying them so I spent most of the time daydreaming, was the girl standing next to me had had an orange for breakfast and it didn't sit well with her. sad