Primary school assembly – Baulkham Hills North

Baulkham Hills North Public School is a large primary school comprising 958 students in Sydney’s Hills District. The school began running virtual assemblies in Easter 2020, and has now run a virtual art show and student parliament.

The school has grown in confidence since the learning from home period in Term 2 and have kept innovating to meet changing needs in the school community. Their virtual assemblies began as a wellbeing check-in during the learning from home period. As the team have grown in confidence with technology use, the school has started developing other events virtually. Even more is in the pipeline for Term 4.

The school’s first virtual assembly was over Easter 2020 and was about supporting students and building engagement while students were learning from home. The broadcast was made on an iPad using OBS software and live streamed through the school’s Learning Hub and on Facebook. The emphasis was not on perfection, but keeping it real for students and staff, with elements of humour added to the experience to keep students engaged.

The next event was an ANZAC virtual assembly in April. Assemblies have now become virtual fortnightly events hosted in the library and delivered to classrooms through Zoom.

In Term 3 for Education Week, they held their ‘Learning Together’ assembly and a virtual art show. The school also live streamed student parliament to parents and the school community via Zoom on the Learning Hub and Facebook.

A screenshot of an EdWeek poster, including details for joining the virtual art show, student parliament, and virtual showcase of learning
Image: BHNPS celebrated Education Week in a variety of virtual ways.

As the team has grown in confidence and innovation, there are now plans in place for the official school medal ceremonies to be broadcast live and to develop more livestream performance opportunities in CAPA. They have also started a news team who have their own TV show - BHNPSTV.

Equipment used

The first virtual assembly at Easter was a simple affair, filmed in the library using an iPad with OBS software installed to record. No microphones were used, but the school library has amplifiers which captured the voices well (the school has since ordered lapel microphones). This recording was livestreamed on the school’s learning hub and Facebook page.

Virtual assemblies are now held using Zoom, with the library hosting the event and students tuning in from classrooms around the school. The recordings are still livestreamed on the learning hub and Facebook page for the school community.

BHNPS Home Learning Together video screenshot, including quoted text The roll call videos were hilarious. The person in the video is dancing in front of a colourful background
Image: BHNPS's Home Learning Video

Process

It was important that all staff felt supported to learn how to use the technology involved and that was key to the success of implementing virtual assemblies, says Deputy Principal Lux Senthil. The team set themselves the goal of producing an authentic experience that connected with students and made them feel supported in the initial learning from home period rather than aiming for perfection.

The first virtual assembly featured prefects presenting an Acknowledgement of Country remotely, reading the School Pledge remotely, and a fun montage of staff wearing Easter bonnets for the students at home.

With each virtual assembly came more time to prepare, and now they feature regular crosses to students, an Australian slideshow during the national anthem, and some elements like a pre-recorded flag-raising to close the ceremony.

A librarian telling stories via live steam. She is dressed up in a variety of costumes

Checks

The school staff were conscious that supporting student wellbeing was paramount, with presenting and recorded segments being clearly non-identifiable. Both verbal and written permission was sought for students involved in live broadcasts and only first names were ever used. During the learning from home period, 33 students were learning from school and every measure was taken to support these students during this time as they watched from school.

Further information

For more information on how to use Zoom to keep your community connected take a look at the department’s Zoom guide in the Virtual Celebration Toolkit.

For more information, visit Baulkham Hills North Public School’s Learning Hub.

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