An interview with Fleur Tweehuysen from Alveston.

23rd April 2024

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions Fleur. We are seeing the need more & more for regular prayer spaces in schools so when we heard you were running a weekly lunch time prayer space club we had to find out more!  

Please tell us about yourself, how you first connected with the school and how long have you been running prayer spaces in schools?

My name is Fleur Tweehuysen and I am a Teaching Assistant at St Helen’s School in Alveston. I am a regular member of the church.  So when Johanna Baxter from North Severn Side Benefice who helps with the ‘Open the Book’ team at our school approached me about ‘Prayer Spaces in Schools’ I was very interested. Johanna had run prayer spaces with another school in the benefice which had been very successful and impacted the whole school community. She also runs whole school prayer spaces for significant points in the school/church calendar. Eg; Easter Experience, Leavers Prayer Space, The Star Trail, Flying High at St Helens this year, Let us be Thankful for Lent.

I had various conversations with our RE (Religious Education) lead at St Helen’s on how we could implement this initiative at St Helen’s School. Kelvin Chappell (St Helen’s Head Teacher and RE lead) and I went on the ‘Prayer Spaces in School’ course in January 2023 we found it very useful and inspiring. We then set about planning, resourcing and recruiting volunteers to run the prayer space ready for the launch in school. 

What did the first prayer spaces look like and how do they look now?

Our first Prayer Space was based on our school Value for the term which was ‘Courage’ We set up 5 activities in our Reflection Garden. We ran it on a Tuesday lunchtime every week of the term changing the activities every week. The children can come and go throughout the hour. We also opened up to parents, carers and siblings at school pick up time.

Now we only do one activity each week on a Tuesday lunchtime, still based on our Value for the term. This makes up 6 Prayer activities each term. The children can choose to take their work home to share with their families or they can have it displayed on our ‘Prayer Spaces at School’ notice board which is in the corridor by the office so is seen by the pupils, staff and visitors to the school. This is updated every week. 

Any top tips you have discovered along the way or for people starting to think about running a space for the first time?

Plan your space and gather all resources in advance, the ‘Prayer Spaces in School’ website have some great resources and ideas.

Ensure you have regular reliable volunteers to help run the space.

Communicate what you require from your volunteers.

Pray for Gods guidance.

How do the pupils get to access the weekly space?

We set up the Prayer Space in the Reflection Garden if the weather is good and in the Quite Covered Area if it is raining. They are both in the playground so accessible to all the 210 pupils. It is open to all pupils, some spend the whole lunchtime with us others only spend 5 mins. They have their lunch with the rest of their class in the allotted timeslot in the hall, this means that there are not too many pupils at any one time. The older pupils help out the younger ones with the activity too. 

How do choose which prayer activities to do each week?

We choose our Prayer Space each week based on our school Value for that term and on events going on locally, nationally and internationally eg; Christmas, Easter, Harvest, Poverty, Natural World, Floods, Coronation, War etc. We have 12 school values: Service, Trust, Compassion, Courage, Generosity, Respect, Truthfulness, Thankfulness, Justice, Friendship, Perseverance and Forgiveness. We get our ideas from the ‘Prayer Spaces for Schools’ website and then tweak them to fit in with current events.

Can you share with us any special memories?

This is one of the messages written on the cardboard home. We were thinking about the homeless and our value of Compassion.   

 This is one of our Prayer Spaces for the Coronation of King Charles III which we linked with our value of  ‘Courage’ 

The Easter Experience 2023