Secondary Assemblies for SEAL is a collection of 40 original secondary assemblies designed to tackle the five priority outcomes outlined in the secondary SEAL programme. These SEAL assemblies about inspirational people will support your commitment to enforcing emotional learning in secondary schools

Written by Brian Radcliffe

Helping pupils become emotionally literate adults is an important part of your role as a teacher. A good way to implement SEAL across the whole school is to start with assemblies. Assemblies can be important opportunities to instil learning about life, away from academic pressure.

Secondary Assemblies for SEAL is a collection of 40 assemblies that will support you in implementing social and emotional aspects of learning within your school, providing you with inspirational stories about people who have succeeded in the face of adversity.

Experience shows that children learn better when their emotional needs are being met. As adults, we know that when we are faced with serious life issues like bereavement, relationship difficulties or financial stress it is harder to concentrate on our work and other daily responsibilities. Anxiety, fear and sadness are intrusive feelings that can incapacitate our ability to absorb information or learn new skills. Despite this we have sometimes shown a naïve expectation that young people will come to school ready to learn.

Any emotional literacy curriculum will work towards helping children to make the link between emotional feelings, thinking and behaviour. How we are feeling affects our thinking, but it is also the case that what we are thinking affects the way we are feeling. Our thoughts and our feelings together have a strong impact on our behavioural reactions.

Supporting the social and emotional aspects of learning

The assemblies are categorised into five sections in line with five key aspects:

  • Empathy
  • Managing feelings
  • Motivation
  • Self-awareness
  • Social skills

Assembly structure

The message within each assembly is either implicit or more explicit, though there is considerable overlap of social and emotional learning between the sections. Each assembly is structured in the same way with:

  • Engagement – this gives the main background to the story – it is the section that will set the scene for the rest of the assembly.
  • Response – this part of the assembly draws a parallel between the story being told and the SEAL aspect dealt with in the section.
  • Meditation/prayer – this is not affiliated to any particular religion and therefore can be used in any school setting.

The assemblies are designed to be delivered to a large, mixed-ability audience. They do, however, contain additional material that can be used within the wider curriculum:

  • Leading questions can be used within form tutorial or PSHE lessons to extend students’ response to the issues raised.
  • Something to do contains a variety of activities to reinforce understanding of those issues.

Read on for a summary of the assemblies included in each section:

Social skills

  • Wonder Woman – how athlete Carolina Kluft uses the profile provided by her exceptional talent.
  • Peacemaker – Desmond Tutu’s role in the reintegration of racial groups in South Africa.
  • How much are you worth? – the way the words of others can influence how we feel about ourselves.
  • The four-minute team – considering teamwork, using the story of Roger Bannister’s 1954 four-minute mile run.


  • Being Harry Potter – comparison of the real life of Daniel Radcliffe, the actor, and the fictional life of Harry Potter.
  • The Virginia Tech shootings – the experience of Derek O’Dell, one of the students wounded in the shootings at Virginia Tech College in the United States.
  • Johnny Wilkinson – the pressure to succeed.
  • Food, glorious food – the stand-up comedian Marcus Brigstock’s experience of an eating disorder and what it might say about a range of addictive behaviours.


  • Get on with stuff – Alex Stobbs and his attitude to a crippling illness, cystic fibrosis. (Note: be sensitive to the possibility that a student, or member of their family, may suffer from some form of this illness or similar.)
  • Take heart – the footballer Kanu whose experience of a potentially career-threatening heart condition led him to create a charity helping those with a similar problem in his home country of Nigeria.
  • The bravest woman in Afghanistan – the bravery of Malalai Joya, the Afghani MP.
  • Paul Potts the winner of Britain’s Got Talent – the amateur opera singer who went from stacking shelves at Tescos to The Royal Variety Performance.

Managing feelings

  • Truth and reconciliation – two stories, one from South Africa, one from Northern Ireland, in which individuals attempt to cope with the consequences of political murder.
  • Dealing with Bo! Selecta – how the singer Craig David coped with being made a figure of fun.
  • Jamie Murray, the older brother – how to relate to brothers and sisters, particularly when jealousy is an issue.
  • Addicted – the addictive effect of computer gaming. Strategies to tackle such addiction are explored.


  • One of the people – how local man, Greg Davis, has been able to tackle community issues on a Northern England council estate, where the official authorities had failed.
  • Remember, remember the 11th of September – exploring empathy with those who experience great tragedies.
  • Mind games with elephants – the way elephants in captivity suffer the same emotional issues faced by humans. The work of Pat Derby in providing a refuge for these animals is recounted.
  • Who cares? – the lives of young carers and the sacrifices they make in their family role.