One of the things being very different at schools in Australia is the weekly assembly. Every week all the children from school gather in the gymnasium. There are some things that stand out for me at assembly.
What is a school assembly?
The definition that I found is that an assembly is a gathering of all or part of a school in order to communicate information and share learning experiences.
What is it like in reality? At Essex Heights this means that every Monday all the 500+ students gather in the assembly room and sit on the floor. The principal talks to all the students and brings in the school values: friendliness, respect, honesty, persistence and inclusiveness.
Singing the national anthem and the school song are also part of the assembly.
Music is an important feature of Essex Heights. At assembly a class (usually the whole grade) gets a chance to perform. This week it was class 3/4’s turn. They sung John Denvers “country roads”. Pretty impressive! Ok I might be a bit biased, but listen and judge for yourself:
Student of the week
About 15 students are being called out for a student of the week award. Which they receive for a special achievement. I figure that every one will be student of the week at one point or another. Through Dutch eyes, where being equal is the norm, this is a bit unusual and awkward. Also some of the reasons why students become student of the week (for being friendly to the driver) sound a bit unusual. I guess we need to see it as another way the school values are carried out.
The assembly is closed off with a raffle. I had already read that Australians just love to gamble. I guess for kids this translates into a raffle. There are two chickens on the school ground. Their eggs are given out as prices every week. All the family names are put into a big hat and depending on the number of eggs that the chicken laid that week you get two or three lucky families.
I find all the differences intruiging. Having to let go of the instinct to find what you are used to the better way. There are so many more ways to learn than the system you have grown up in.