Soul Space at St. Andrew's Primary School, Marks Tey

23rd February 2023

Links between St. Andrew’s Church in Marks Tey near Colchester and the local primary school go back many years with regular visits to take Open the Book assemblies. In 2016, inspired by the work of CYO, the Colchester schools work charity, we asked the school if they would like to have a week’s prayer space and Soul Space, as it was called, then happened every November until the pandemic.

In May a new Head who had started at Easter 2021 asked for a meeting to talk about Soul Space, both for Year 6, and for the whole school. As a result we ran a Transition Soul Space for Year 6 which was also good practice for November and gave us the chance to recruit some new helpers. With the last prayer space being in November 2019 it was a challenge remembering what to do, and getting everything organised, but with help from CYO we gathered all the resources together and set them up in school, using a demountable classroom that wasn’t in regular use.

Soul Space ran from Tuesday to Friday, with four sessions of 45 mins most days, with half a class coming in at a time. The Rector (my husband) or I led most of the sessions, with six other people helping out for between one & three sessions each. Our hope is that some of them will now feel confident to lead a session or two next time!

Several pupils from Years 4, 5 and 6 said they remembered coming 3 years ago, and they were all excited to be back again. One thing we particularly noticed was that after the disrupted years of the pandemic it was more challenging to get some of the children to engage with the activities than previously. Several of them had to be reminded to be quiet and not to race through everything, some found writing difficult. Overall though, feedback from staff was very encouraging, and said how much the children had enjoyed the experience.

Some of my favourite responses were to the ‘My big question’ activity: Why did you make earth and who helped you? Who or what made God and how? How long will my hair grow? Where did you come from? How big is the universe? What are atoms made of? Why is the ice-cream machine in McDonalds never working?

We look forward to running Soul Space again next year.

Jane Scott-Thompson