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Schools Blog

How to run a prayer space in school


News from Beckie Pickering, Haverhill Schools Initiative.

We’ve recently just completed a week of RE lessons using a prayer space. What might seem a daunting task with time for some preparation and a good relationship with the school isn’t so daunting after all. We had the week in our diary a month ahead giving us plenty of time to source items and prepare.

In talking to the school it’s important to establish what space you can have. We had the drama studio for the week. You need a space for the entire duration, packing down constantly will be tiring and will also affect the mood of the space. We did have to move everything over for lunch times which was a little frustrating but do-able. Also establishing the time you have is important, lessons shorter than 40 minutes probably won’t work, unless you have an initial lesson before.

We made it clear to the school that no young person would be forced to pray, and we wouldn’t use the name Jesus so it was open to all faiths- however as we had a good relationship with students most assumed the session was aimed at Jesus! All the stations have curricular links with SEAL, Citizenship and RE which is always good to show the school, you are more likely to have a positive response from the school if they know you’re linking it educationally.

We gave ourselves three weeks for the two of us to prepare the week. We used the Prayer Spaces in Schools website (www.prayerspacesinschools.com) as they have loads of station ideas and handy tips. Their stations also have the curriculum links. From here you can select what you want to use for your space and age of students.

Compiling lists of resources you will need is vital. We sent lists around to churches and either borrowed or had generous gifts to gather everything we needed. We also spoke to the friendly people at Orison (www.orisonschools.org.uk) for their advice in how to run the lessons.

Volunteers are also vital, not only for the week but in the preparation. We had hundreds of leaves, hearts and slips of paper that needed cutting; getting people with an hour to spare cut down our work load massively and made the wider church community feel a part of it. You will also need people suitable for the week to man the zones, a great opportunity to get people from the church into the school.

Each lesson we started with an 8 minute introduction explaining what prayer is and how students were expected to conduct themselves. We had individual work so encouraged silence. We then asked the teacher to split them into groups who they would rotate around the four zones with, within each zone they took part in the stations We created a feedback form which they did at the end of the lesson anonymously which revealed amazing things and ended by saying what prayer meant to us personally in our Christian faith.

It’s all in the planning and preparation....God did the rest and we are amazed by the impact the week had on the students’ lives.

If you would like to get in touch with Beckie, please email her at: haverhillschoolsinitiative@googlemail.com

Submitted by Rachel Noyce at 9:34am, 6th June 2011