"This has changed my mind about praying, so it's basically changed my future."Student (Year 9)

What Next?

Supporting the ongoing spiritual life of the school community.

ENDING WELL

Ending well is just as (or perhaps even more) important than starting well. Ending well determines how well you move on into what’s next.

In some schools, the teams have given away small packs of Post-it notes to anyone visiting the prayer space on the final day, and have encouraged them to go and create their own Prayer Wall at home somewhere. In others, students have joined in with the prayer space pack-down, which is often a good time to reflect on the week with them. In one school, the team turned the final lunchtime into a celebration/story-telling session, where students swapped their favourite moments from the week as they shared their packed lunches. Think carefully about how you can end your prayer space well.
 

THE WEEK AFTER... FOLLOW-UP WITH THE TEAM

Say a big thank you to everyone who has been part of your team, even the volunteers who came to help set-up and pack-down. Write short thank you cards or send emails to everyone, or buy them some chocolates, or if you’re feeling really creative buy them a small commemorative gift each, e.g. a school pencil with ‘Anytown High School, Prayer Space Team, July 2015’ printed down the side.

Ask your team for feedback on the prayer space. You could send a short set of questions (along with a deadline for replying) via email, or you could invite everyone to get together to swap feedback, stories and photos over some pizza. Ask for practical feedback, e.g.

  • What do you think worked well?
  • What didn’t work so well?/What could be improved for the next prayer space?

And ask for stories and observations as well, e.g.

  • What was your favourite moment or conversation?
  • What did staff say about the prayer space?
  • What did students say about the prayer space?

Their feedback will help you with your report on the prayer space (see below).

Check through all of the prayer space resources before you pack them away, or before you return items to those you borrowed them from. Make a list of any items that need replacing or repairing so that everything is ready-to-use for the next prayer space.

Gather in any remaining expenses and receipts from your team and finalise the budget, so that you can submit this to the school, the host church or the Christian organisation.
 

THE WEEK AFTER... FOLLOW UP WITH THE SCHOOL

Say a big thank you to all of the school staff, cleaners, caretaker, etc. who participated in the prayer space or helped in some way. Write short thank you cards or buy a big box of chocolates and deliver it to the staff-room.

In some schools the teams have worked with staff and/or students to create prayer space display boards to leave somewhere in the school. These boards could include students prayers and photos, as well as some of the student’s feedback on their experiences.

Arrange a follow-up visit to the school for a informal debrief conversation with the Head of RE and/or any key staff members who were involved in making the prayer space happen. During the debrief conversation, ask for practical feedback, e.g.

  • What do you think worked well?
  • What didn’t work so well?/What could be improved for the next prayer space?/How could we serve you better next time?

And ask for stories and observations as well, e.g.

  • What was your favourite moment or conversation?
  • What did other staff say about the prayer space?
  • What did students say about the prayer space?

Their feedback will also help you with your report on the prayer space (see below).
 

THE WEEK AFTER... FOLLOW UP WITH THE LOCAL CHURCH

Say a big thank you to those from the local church who have been praying for you and supporting you and the prayer space team. Write short thank you cards or send them an email with a couple of photos and stories from the prayer space.

Ask the church leader to let you have 5 minutes in the Sunday service immediately after the prayer space, and/or a page in the weekly church newsletter, to show a few photos and tell a few stories. Maybe you could take a bag of the student’s prayers (ones without names) and invite the church members to collect one of them and pray for the student who wrote it during the coming week.
 

WRITING A REPORT FOR THE SCHOOL

It’s good practice to write a short report after each prayer space because it provides a record of what has taken place and it also highlights areas and opportunities for further work. Prayer space reports can vary in content and detail, depending on how involved the team are in the ongoing life of the school, but we would recommend the following elements:

  • The dates and the location of the prayer space.
  • The names of the team leader and school staff contacts, as well as the supporting churches and Christian organisations (maybe including logos).
  • A couple of sentences defining what a prayer space is, with reference to the Prayer Spaces in Schools website and curriculum links, etc. to provide context.
  • A couple of sentences explaining this particular prayer space, e.g. theme, season.
  • A 1-line description of each prayer activity, or maybe a summary list of them, identifying any that students have helped to design or create.
  • A couple of paragraphs on what happened, the themes that emerged from the student’s prayers and reflections, and any challenges or difficulties that arose.
  • Some photos of the prayer space, including some close-ups of individual prayers.
  • A typed-up list of the student’s Big Question prayers, and/or any of the other prayer activities that the school has an ongoing interest in.
  • A few feedback comments from students.
  • A few feedback comments from staff.
  • Recommendations for what next - How can the prayer space be followed up?

It’s important to remember that a report written for the school, about the school, belongs to the school, and therefore shouldn’t be copied beyond the school and the team.
 

WRITING A STORY-REPORT FOR THE PRAYER SPACES IN SCHOOLS WEBSITE

In addition to writing a short report for the school, please also write (or ask one of your team to write) a story-report for the Prayer Spaces in Schools website. The best stories/articles are narrative rather than descriptive, and they try to capture the experience of the prayer space rather than the format. We would recommend the following elements;

  • A short description of the school community, and the prayer space itself, to set the scene.
  • A few memorable moments... what happened?
  • Interesting conversations and observations.
  • Feedback from staff and students - What did they think or feel about the prayer space?
  • Feedback from team members, especially ones who have joined for the first time.
  • Student prayers.
  • A series of photos, including a couple of the whole prayer space or creative prayer activities, and some close-ups of (re-written) student prayers.

Please send your story/article and photos to us at info@prayerspacesinschools.com. Thanks so much!
 

AND WHAT NEXT?

As we’ve already said, prayer spaces work best when they’re not one-off events, but part of the ongoing spiritual and pastoral life of a school. Prayer spaces often open up new ways for local Christians to work in partnership with their local school communities.

To find more resources, videos and case studies, please visit the SUPPORTING SPIRITUAL LIFE IN SCHOOL pages on this website. In the meantime, here are just a few examples of new things that have been launched following prayer spaces in primary and secondary schools around the UK:

  • Chaplaincies. Lots of prayer spaces have been set up and hosted by local chaplaincy teams, and in some schools, chaplaincies are being set up as a follow-up to prayer spaces.
  • Permanent prayer spaces. Having hosted a day- or week-long prayer space, some schools are now setting up ‘permanent’ prayer spaces. In some schools, small rooms are being set-aside (or purpose-built), while other are creating prayer corners in each classroom. There are many different models.
  • An after-school cafe, with a prayer tent.
  • A series of Big Question workshops. After hosting their first prayer space, the chaplaincy team at a Scottish high school set up a series of Big Question workshops for students who wanted to explore further. The HM Inspectors who visited one of these workshops were impressed and mentioned it in their report.
  • Youth Alpha. 90 students signed-up for a lunchtime Youth Alpha that followed on from a prayer space. More than 60 of these participated in the whole course.
  • Church volunteers serving as reading-buddies and mentors.
  • Prayer spaces during INSET days and parent's evenings.
  • Prayer spaces created in response to tragedies within the school community.
  • Lunchtime creative prayer groups.
  • Lessons and assemblies.
  • A prayer garden project.
  • An annual rhythm of 2/3 prayer spaces.

We hope and pray that your prayer space will open up new ways for you to serve your local school. Please stay in touch and let us know how you get on.

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