Terrorism-related assembly today (Juniors only)
This morning I led an assembly for Junior (7-11) children about the two recent terrorist attacks. As it stands, we have decided not to do an assembly like this for the infants but we will respond to any concerns expressed.
We started off with the tug of war rope stretched across the front of the hall and we looked at a couple of questions to model to the children what extremist and extremism means:
- What should children do at school?
- How should animals be treated?
We positioned mainstream views in the centre, with lots of children coming out to be positioned there, and then explored some increasingly radical/extreme views – some expressed genuinely and some in role play. As views expressed became more extreme, they elicited some laughing and then shock. This was deliberate: some extremist views can just be mocked, but then some overstep any mark and cannot be tolerated, especially when they incite violence. The single children or adult at the extremities of the rope contrasted with the much larger groups nearer the centre.
We returned to the rope model (without children coming out) and talked about the vast, vast majority of Muslims being around the centre of the rope. We read child-friendly extracts from the statement from the Muslim Council of Britain about the attacks to illustrate that the Muslim community is as shocked and disgusted as everyone else. I had told the children that when I was a boy there was terrorism in Northern Ireland and Britain, and compared that to our experiences now. It is important for the children to know that people of many faith backgrounds (and none) have been involved in terrorism over the years.
Finally, we took questions and comments from the children and had a prayer. The children asked good questions and I suspect that they may wish to discuss these issues further.
The children have observed the minute’s silence at 11.00 and will have an opportunity to discuss any issues arising from the assembly in class groups.
If any parents would like advice about talking about these issues with their children, the NSPCC’s support may be useful: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/news-opinion/supporting-children-worried-about-terrorism/
I appreciate that this is a complex, emotionally challenging issue, but I have done my best to present the facts in a ‘child-friendly’, reassuring manner. I regard the multi-faith, multicultural mix in our school to be a strength and asset and our relationships are strong. We must not and will not let terrorists jeopardise this.