19th October 2023
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with us Anna so how long have you run prayer spaces in schools?
We’ve just started having a prayer space at Eagle’s Nest this September, but in one of my previous schools, I helped to run 2 prayer spaces a year for a number of years.
Can you tell us a bit about the ’school’ you are in now and how it is different?
I now work in an Alternative Provision with 11–18-year-olds who are unable to engage effectively with mainstream education as a result of significant childhood adversity, complex, traumatic life situations/experiences and social, emotional and mental health issues linked to the above.
As we’re not a mainstream school we don’t have lessons, instead young people have 1:1 sessions or practical based projects such as cooking, animal care, spa. We are currently working with 26 young people who can all be on different packages, some may just be with us once a week, others may attend 3 days.
Everything we do comes from a therapeutic approach and we aim to help our students learn to self-regulate and find strategies to help them manage their emotions.
Why do you think prayer spaces in schools works for this environment just as much as any other?
Young people whether in mainstream or alternative education are searching, they’re intrigued, when they’re finding life tough, they need a way to be able to release that, and a prayer space gives them that opportunity. As a charity with Christian values, it gives us an opportunity to explore what that means and looks like for them.
There are also some similarities between the prayer activities and some of the things we do in our sessions, so they’re something that our young people will feel comfortable with.
How do you choose prayer activities and where, when, how can pupils access them?
We currently have a permanent prayer space in our student lounge, which is the room the majority of our young people will walk into each day. The space is available any time, we hope that as our young people become more familiar with it, that they would use the space more and more. Our activities are creative and interactive, we choose them based on topics or situations we know will connect with our young people.
How are pupils responding to them?
It’s very early days but we’ve had a few responses which is encouraging and we hope this will grow as the young people get more comfortable with it.
Do you have any memorable/funny stories you can share with us in a prayer space in school?
In my previous experience we had to cross out the odd rude word or picture but nothing other than that.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about starting a prayer space in school?
Go for it! Make it your own, whatever suits you and your situation.