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Secondary Sports Assemblies – 40 Sport-themed Assemblies to Inspire and Engage By Brian Radcliffe

| September 24, 2010

Published by Optimus Education: 170 pages
ISBN: 978-1-905538-73-7
Reviewed by Fiona de Villiers

Finding a fresh new reading and prayer or meditation for assembly is often yet another task the Head must undertake. Many school leaders have on their shelves compendiums well-suited to the task, but feel that it’s time for new ideas. Who’s really got time, though, to hunt for fresh inspirational readings?

Secondary Sports Assemblies – 40 Sport-themed Assemblies to Inspire and Engage is the answer. UK publishing group Optimus Education has collected 40 great ideas from author Brian Radcliffe – a writer and teacher specialising both in the delivery of innovative assemblies and the use of drama techniques to promote active learning – together in a smart hardcover file.

Individual assembly presentations can easily be taken out, photocopied and snapped back into place. Secondary Sports Assemblies is part of Optimus’s larger publishing project to support the national UK Behaviour Challenge, to encourage all schools to achieve consistently higher levels of behaviour and attendance. The
UK Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has particularly promoted social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) as a national voluntary programme. Good social and emotional skills help pupils, for example, to make friendships, work in teams, solve problems, deal with conflict, manage strong feelings, be calmer and optimistic, recover from setbacks, compete fairly, and respect others’ rights and value diversity.

Says Radcliffe of Secondary Sports Assemblies: “Sport is a topic that readily engages the interest of the majority of young people. What better way, then, to encourage young people to consider some of their personal values than to introduce them to sportsmen and women who have a story to tell?” The assemblies are divided into five themes: self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills. Famous cyclist Lance Armstrong features in a session entitled ‘Beyond the Barriers’. For this particular assembly, a variety of high-quality PowerPoint images, supplied on a DVD disc, are intended to accompany an introduction
delivered by four readers, each voicing a barrier typically experienced by teens – such as a fear of Maths, or a fear of not being pretty enough. In the Reflection segment of the assembly, the ‘Leader’ uses the given text to explain how Armstrong took control of his health and his life.

The suggested meditation or prayer (also a PowerPoint frame) takes the lesson one step further: “Every barrier I overcome makes me a more experienced person.
That experience is worth sharing so others may clamber over. Give me the sensitivity to encourage without imposing, To support without making someone else dependent on me, To develop a thick skin so I can ignore the comments of those who doubt me.”

The accompanying disc has PowerPoint frames for every assembly in the file, and some of them can also be viewed in hardcopy. Each session concludes with learning extension activities that can be pursued in Life Orientation, English History or Drama lessons. The focus of each assembly is clarity without overkill, and they’re not just for boys, by any means. At least 10 female icons join the ‘cast’, and there’s a great assembly on sexism in motor racing. Larger issues take their place too – I loved the lessons on cheating and sports psychiatry, the latter meditation ending with the words:

“Truth is stronger than falsehood. Evidence is stronger than rumour. Confidence is stronger than doubt. May I believe this about myself because of what I know.”

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Category: Book Reviews, Spring 2010 Edition

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