Assemblies play an essential role in the welcoming life of Durston House. Every Assembly is planned term by term. All are welcome to this focal point to our work. We gather as a whole school, boys and staff combined; we gather as respective sections of the school, sometimes discretely, sometimes mixed; we gather as Houses, boys and staff, as a whole House or in Vertical Groups; we gather as the school community at Final Assembly, boys, staff, parents and friends. We celebrate being Durston – we engage, we connect, we inform, we sing and pray.
Weekly Assemblies follow a distinctive pattern, designed to instil calm, discipline and reflection in the boys, but also to create a sense of belonging, community, celebration and excitement.
We enter and leave assembly in silence, a calm, reflective time for all at the beginning of the week. In keeping with our Christian ethos, we sing and pray together. Our hymns are those that inspire through word and music, taken from the canon of traditional English hymns. Our prayer is that of thanks to God for the privileges He bestows on us as a school. Such reflection in song and prayer are given context, as both form an important part of the boys’ spiritual development, and that of all present.
From an early age, groups of boys, or sometimes particular Form Classes, work to prepare presentations in Assembly, often centring on a favourite theme in the curriculum, an exciting current sporting or cultural event, or a school initiative. Their ownership of ideas and participation in such a ‘public’ event develops confidence and a sense of responsibility.
Visiting speakers and guests, like many boys, bring their own insights and passions to Assembly, opening for us all a world beyond Durston. Success of others is recognised and celebrated. Medals, cups or certificates are presented to individuals who have developed their skills, either inside or outside of school. Boys are proud to share their sporting, musical or academic achievement with their peers, who are generous in their recognition of such success and inspired to do likewise.
House Assemblies occur several times each term and bring together all boys and staff belonging to one of our four Houses. These Assemblies are led by the Heads of House and the team of Year 8 boys, each of whom leads his own Vertical Group. The spirit of the House and the endeavours of boys in the House are celebrated and the programme of House or Vertical Group activities is promoted and discussed. Preparations for inter-House sporting or cultural competitions are made and House enthusiasm and support are garnered.
On the last day of each term, we hold our ever-popular Final Assembly. The entire school community comes together to review what has been done, celebrate success and look forward to the work ahead. With so many parents and friends attending, a larger venue is needed, and Haven Green Baptist Church offers the right setting for a fitting end to the term. Its spacious nave allows the boys and staff to sit together in their Houses, whilst its sizeable gallery gives parents the perfect view of the proceedings. Worship occurs, individuals and groups entertain and inform, our charity work is recognised, and the Headmaster addresses the Assembly, offering at the end, the Blessing for the school. A happy mix of formal and informal is found – a perfect start to the holidays!