'The peace and tranquility of the prayer space was an antidote to exam stress.'
The team at Hurstpierpoint College developed a series of webpages with art work and audio-tracks to guide students around their 'Still Space'.
"For our Still Space at Hurst College (an independent church school in West Sussex) we borrowed a marquee and placed it in the centre of the school campus opposite the chapel. We choose activities that would allow students to find peace and stillness during the stress of exams.
The Still Space was scheduled for a week, but after four days the chaplain suggested that we open it up to students from 8:30am till 9:30pm for a second week. On several nights it stayed open even later as students asked for more time. By the end of the first four days 130 students had visited and participated.
The most impressive part of our Still Space was the technology. In our first planning meeting, an off-the-cuff comment prompted our IT maestro to develop a series of webpages specifically for the prayer space. Each webpage contained a piece of art work created by one of the students, and an audio track relating to one of the prayer activities. We wrote and recorded the scripts for each audio track, and then added an appropriately chilled backing track.
Our marquee had a dedicated Wi-Fi which never let us down, and the technological support was outstanding (we even had our own QR codes!). Despite wet and stormy weather, the students were able to access these webpages on the iPads as they explored the Still Space, and it created the sense of peace we had intended.
'This Still Space was a place to reflect on life, and to relax during a stressful time'
Our students seemed to appreciate being able to be in the space on their own without adults supervising them, and this was borne out by several volunteers who felt that it was better for them to sit outside the marquee rather than crowd the students inside. There was a respect for the space by the students and we had no damage to any activities although quite a lot of sweets were eaten.
The student reaction was very positive with many asking for something permanent. Interestingly, the term ‘Still Space’ has already entered our school psyche. Staff have used the phrase in emails, and during a leavers assembly it was mentioned by a student as a place to go in times of distress.
Here is a selection of their comments from the feedback board:
- 'We need a permanent one'
- 'It was really good to just relax and have nothing to worry about for a few mins'
- 'Place to reflect on our life and relaxing during a stressful time'
- 'Very calm and inspiring'
- 'This room extends beyond mortal, temporal existence and is a symbol of eternity'
- 'Very calming and a good way to connect with God'
The success of the space was the result of more than just the activities in the tent. A huge team of people, from various departments and the local community, worked together to create this event. Staff and parent groups prayed, and they used the space to hold their regular meetings.
Everyone agreed that the peace and tranquility of the space was an antidote to exam stress."
Deborah Jackson organised the prayer space at Hurstpierpoint College.