9th February 2023
How long have you been running prayer spaces in schools and how did you get started?
We have been running prayer and reflection spaces in schools in Maidstone, Kent for ten years. We came across Prayer for Schools and were inspired to make this something we could offer as part of our work. We approached one of the schools we were working in and they loved the idea. It’s simply grown from there and become a regular part of what we do. We often have teachers from interested schools come to visit when we have one set up; once they see it for themselves, they are keen to book it for their school!
Having a good relationship with the school already is key, along with fantastic volunteers from local churches who come and help during the week.
What type of schools do you visit and how often do you run prayer spaces in schools?
We visit all types of secondary schools: academies, Catholic, C of E, non-denominational, grammar schools, any schools really. We run about 2 a year.
How do you decide what prayer activities to take with you, what do think makes a ‘good’ prayer space?
I think a good prayer space is one that is specific to the school you are in. It’s important to think about what’s going on for students at that point in time. If the school have a particular theme or topic they are focussing on, then we write the activities to fit with that theme. It’s important to be flexible to the needs of the school, it’s about supporting them and giving them a safe space for their students. We have found it helps to try and have something for all learning styles and abilities to ensure it is accessible to a wide variety of students. Encouraging them to have a go but not pressuring them if they’d rather stand back and just have a think about it. The most popular activity has always been the giant bubble tube surrounded by cushions! The aim – to be still, to be at peace. They all love it and comment that they need one of their own at home!
Why do you think prayer spaces in schools is of value/important?
Young people are under so much pressure. They rarely have time to stop, think and reflect on their own lives and those around them. Creating a safe, welcoming and peaceful place for them to stop and think is so important for their wellbeing on many levels. Having time to stop and reflect enables them to think things through, face up to fears or challenges, consider relationships with others and perhaps work out a way forwards.
Do you have a favourite memory or experience of a prayer space or pupil in a prayer room that you are happy to share?
So many! Over the years I have had some hilarious conversations and some heart-breaking conversations with students. The activities can trigger emotions and questions that you’re sometimes not expecting. After our first ever prayer space, we found out afterwards that the classroom we had been allocated to use for the week also doubled up as the isolation room. There is something very wonderful about a room that students associated with times of trouble, being transformed into a place of peace.
Students have said ……
“I felt calm and peaceful in there it helped me reflect. It allowed me to think and question things. It was fun.” Year 7
“It gave me a different perspective. I thought about things I never think about.” Year 7
“It made me think a lot and helped me start to see what other people think about things and about prayer. There were lots of cool and fun activities. I found it engaging.” Year 8
“I was able to write down my feelings. It made me think about how I can help others. It let me express my feelings I keep inside.” Year 8
“I could question things I take for granted. It allowed me to think about themes like poverty, love, being unique, people around the world, forgiveness. It made me realise how lucky I am. And it gave me an opportunity to think about God’s existence.” Year 9
Staff have said ….
“Thank you so much for bringing your wonderful reflection space to our chapel. As usual the students loved it as did the staff. It never ceases to amaze me the different comments that are written by the students, they are quite thought provoking which brings me back down to earth sometimes! I am forever grateful for your service to God and to us as an academy.
Thank you for blessing us yet another year!” School Chaplain
“The prayer and reflection space allowed students to engage with a range of personal and world issues that could impact them in a variety of ways.
Having it in the school enables all involved, both staff and students, to have a safe space to reflect and share. I highly recommend the prayer and reflection space.” RE lead
“Students were able to engage in the variety of activities and consider the questions. Students approached the space with a very positive attitude, they were keen to try something different and enjoyed being able to offer their own views and opinions.
I would definitely recommend the prayer and reflection space to other schools. School life is so busy for both students and staff. The reflection space provides opportunity to be still and wonder.” RE lead
“The Prayer and Reflection Space is an invaluable resource, it is a chance for our students to stand still in their increasingly busy and pressured lives and reflect. Just to be quiet and think is something that many young people do not know how to do in the digital age. The Prayer and Reflection Space offers that wonderful opportunity and our students were engaged by the resources offered and by the adults that run the Prayer and Reflection Space because they listened to them and allowed them to listen to one another.
I would recommend the Prayer and Reflection Space to other schools; it is something the young people will remember.” RE lead