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You’ve got a friend in me…

Looking for ideas for an inspiring assembly? Derek Peaple shares why he loves the Toy Story films to encourage pupils.

For the headteacher looking for start – or indeed end – of term assembly inspiration, Toy Story really is the gift that keeps giving.

I thought you wouldn’t improve on the third – and I assumed final – instalment for a Leavers’ Assembly. End of one journey, start of another… Woody’s ‘so long, partner’ as Andy drives off to college gets them going every time.

How wrong could l be….
Of course, Toy Story 4 is first and foremost just a great film. I loved it! But its messages deliver on every level…

The importance of creativity in the curriculum as Bonnie’s traumatic first day at Kindergarten is transformed by the spontaneous joy of making her friend Forky…
Forky’s terrible initial insecurity and lack of self-worth and esteem. He literally thinks he’s trash and wants to run away from the world….
The way Woody, as his mentor, coach and teacher gradually builds those qualities in him…
Woody’s own insecurities since ceasing to be Andy’s Toy and his search for a sense of meaning and purpose, rediscovered in service and support to another…
Duke Caboom – incidentally my favourite character due to his modelling on one of my own Childhood icons in Evel Knievel – traumatised by fear of rejection and failure as a disappointment to his first kid, rising to the challenge of coming to the rescue and literally making a leap of faith…
Old friends Woody and Buzz concluding that it’s the inner voice, your values, which ultimately determine your direction and self-fulfilment in life…
Which, in an assembly for any year group, at any stage of their school journey, translates to something along the following lines when it comes to key messages:

  • Believe in yourself.
  • In being the best you can be, help others to reach their potential too.
  • Embrace change and the challenge of the new whilst sticking to your core values.

Hopefully, together, they will help to take our young people, individually and collectively…

To infinity and beyond…

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The author

Derek has been the Headteacher of Park House School since 2003, during which time he has played a leading role in regional, national and international education initiatives. He supported the design of the Values-themed London 2012 Get Set Education programme and was subsequently appointed as the first Chair of the Youth Sport Trust‘s National Headteacher Strategy Group. In 2013 he received the inaugural Sir John Madejski Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Sport and contributed to the House of Commons Education Committee’s Report, School Sport following London 2012: No more political football. Ofsted recently stated that, at Park House, a "values driven ambition for students inspired by the Headteacher drives the school’s effective improvement." The school has also just been identified in the top 100 state schools in the country for continuous improvement in GCSE results. Derek was shortlisted for the 2016 TES National Headteacher of the Year Award.

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