Published on
12 February 2021

Frazzled parents and busy teachers now have an extra resource to help keep children engaged and entertained during lockdown thanks to Barnardo’s Big Assembly.

The UK’s leading children’s charity has taken the traditional school assembly online so children unable to take part in the daily gathering in the school hall because of the coronavirus pandemic don’t miss out.

The free, 30-minute, fun-filled assembly is available on YouTube for families to watch at home or for schools to use as part of their online lessons - sitting cross-legged on the floor is optional!

Barnardo’s Big Assembly allows children to get active in a warm up routine, travel through time with a Barnardo’s history lesson, watch a Q&A with a ‘superhero’ frontline worker and hear inspiring stories from other young fundraisers.

The video, hosted by Barnardo’s President and mum-of-two Natasha Kaplinsky, is aimed at primary school children and can be streamed to support teachers and families who are looking for an interactive homeschooling activity. Activity sheets are also available to download.

The UK’s largest children’s charity wanted to do something to help stressed-out home-schooling parents and carers, and offer primary school teachers a free resource. So Barnardo’s employees grabbed their mobile phones and tablets and filmed each other giving a history lesson about the charity’s founder Thomas Barnardo, answering children’s questions about what it’s like to be a frontline worker, and giving advice on what to do if a school friend needs help. 

They also recruited dance and fitness teacher Samantha Dene to open the assembly with a Baby Shark workout, and primary school children share stories about how they have fundraised for charities during lockdown.

Six-year-old Henry raised more than £420 with a sponsored read-a-thon, reading for over 50 hours. He donated to three charities - he chose Barnardo’s, Cancer Research UK and The Trussell Trust. Mason-James, aged four, braved the chilly outdoors to go on a sponsored scoot and has so far raised £305 for Barnardo's. Nina, 10, raised £300 for Barnardo’s by baking biscuits and selling them to friends and family.

Within the assembly, the hosts signpost to two Barnardo’s projects launched during the pandemic:

  • See, Hear, Respond supports children struggling during the coronavirus pandemic who may be slipping under the radar of schools or other key agencies
  • Boloh is the UK’s first helpline supporting vulnerable Black, Asian and minority ethnic children and families impacted by Covid-19.

To support learning, parents, carers and teachers can also download activity sheets for children to complete at home after the assembly. 

Barnardo’s President Natasha Kaplinsky said: “I’ve learnt a huge amount from home-schooling two children – including that I need to brush up on my times tables! 

“This is such an incredibly difficult time for children, and parents and teachers across the country are doing a heroic job in supporting them to keep up with school work and stay positive. 

“Barnardo’s Big Assembly is a wonderful free way for children to have fun, be active and learn about the support available for vulnerable children in these unsettling times.”

The Big Assembly has been created as part of Barnardo’s Children in Crisis Appeal to help raise vital funds so it can give children the right support to help them recover from the trauma resulting from the pandemic.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “The coronavirus pandemic has been a very worrying and unsettling time for children. As a father, grandfather and former teacher I can appreciate all too well the challenges both parents and teachers are facing while educating children at home.

“We hope this free video will be useful to help parents, carers and teachers keep children engaged and entertained, and also to explain the vital work that Barnardo’s is doing to support the most vulnerable children during the crisis.

“Sadly, many children are struggling with poor mental health and others are facing harm at home, online or in the community. We hope our video will inspire families and schools to fundraise for Barnardo’s and help us support vulnerable children and young people during these difficult times and for many years to come.”

A Fundraising Challenge Passport worksheet will help children take the first steps on their fundraising journey while the Big Assembly sponsorship form will help children start collecting those all-important pennies and pounds for Barnardo’s.


To view the video and access the activity sheets, visit: http://www.barnardos.org.uk/big-assembly