Prayer Spaces in Schools
Prayer Spaces are places of welcome, where children and young people of all faiths (and those of no faith) can find time and space and creative ways to reflect on questions of life and meaning and spirituality. So far, they have been hosted by people from across the denominational spectrum, and as such they don’t promote a particular ‘brand’ of Christianity at the exclusion of others. Prayer Spaces started in 2008 and have multiplied into many events in primary and secondary schools.
In some areas, single Prayer Space weeks have triggered conversations between schools workers and teachers/educational professionals to multiply these Prayer Spaces in Schools across whole areas or school networks (Romford, Gloucester and Oxford, for example). And as a result of these single Prayer Space weeks, some schools are planning a week into their annual rhythm, some are considering setting up permanent Prayer Spaces, and some are considering launching or reviewing their chaplaincy/pastoral roles. The response of children and young people, and of the schools, to this simple idea has been extraordinary.
Since 2012 St Matthew’s Harwell and All Saints’ Chilton have run an annual Prayer Spaces week in Chilton School, and since 2015 in Harwell School, supported by Prayer Spaces in Schools Oxfordshire. The events have been held during the summer term within the exciting environment of a prayer tent. The tent is divided into 4 zones which each demonstrate and allow the experience of a different type of prayer – for example, thank you, praise and sorry prayers. Last year the children and staff particularly enjoyed the ‘Be still’ zone where they could just be quiet and reflective – something for which they have little opportunity in their busy lives. The children were incredibly positive about their experiences and several described the Prayer Space tent as ‘awesome’!