In the build-up to running your prayer space, you will need to discuss the points below with the school.
If you have a team of volunteers, it usually takes about 3 hours to set up a prayer space, and about 2 hours to pack it down again. When can you do this?
Some schools like to schedule a session in the prayer space just for staff. And some schools like to invite parents to visit when they come to pick their children up after school, or during an open evening. Plan this towards the end of the prayer space.
Which classes will visit the prayer space each day? Is the space large enough to host whole classes, or in half-class groups? If they come in half-classes, how will they be accompanied? How long will each session be? And have any of the classes visited a prayer space before?
Some schools are happy for pupils to return to the prayer space during breaks so that they continue using the prayer activities or talk with the team. (Keep in mind that your team may also need a break. And ask which toilets they can use!)
There are a few things to keep in mind:
Ask your team to arrive at least 15 minutes before the first class, so that you have time to check that everyone’s OK. Pray together.
After every class, restock the Post-it notes, reposition the cushions, re-lid the pens and generally restore the prayer space so that the next class will experience the very best that it has to offer. While they are tidying, ask your team to check for anything (Post-it notes, etc.) that is ‘of concern’ and give it to you.
Maybe an activity needs moving somewhere else? Maybe an explanation isn’t clear enough? Maybe that new prayer activity you designed with the Othello board and the Star Wars figurines just isn’t working the way you’d imagined? Don’t hesitate to change things if you need to, or even remove a prayer activity completely.
Again, check regularly with your team for any concerns. Sometimes, themes in a prayer space can bring things to the surface in adult’s lives too.
Gather feedback, stories and important moments throughout the week. These will help you to write a good report afterwards, and will help you to improve any future prayer spaces.
It’s good to take some photos of the prayer space for your report and for your own records. However, always ask permission from the Senior Leadership Team before taking any photos in school, or ask the school to take photos for you. If you do take photos, make sure that the school have checked them before you use any of them. If it’s not appropriate to take any photos with pupils in them, photos of the prayer activities at the end of a prayer space can still be very effective.
When classes visit your prayer space, use the first 10-15 minutes to talk with them about it. A good prayer space lesson will include:
Tell the pupils who you are, which church(es) you are all from, and which member of staff you’ve been working with.
Ask the pupils a few questions about reflection and prayer. What is prayer? Who might pray? Where and why and how might people pray?
Briefly explain the themes and a bit about how each activity works.
Ensure that pupils understand that they are free to use the activities in a way that is meaningful to them. Or not to use them at all. (Just don’t spoil it for others.)
Encourage the pupils to explore the activities on their own or with friends. In primary schools, you may want to divide the class into groups and carousel them around the activities/zones.
Gather the pupils back together for 5 minutes at the end of the lesson and ask them a few questions. Which activities did they like? Why? Which activities did they find difficult? Ask if they have any questions too.
Detailed prayer space lesson plans are available in our resource library for Key Stages 1-4, and each of these includes educational links, a Powerpoint presentation (if needed) and a simple script for the lesson leader.