“Reading some of the prayers, questions and comments was both humbling and insightful."
Earlier this term we ran our first prayer space at Parson Cross. The aim of the prayer space was to provide an opportunity for members of the school community – pupils, staff and parents – to experience prayer differently. In response to the school’s Spiritual and Cultural Development Plan, the prayer space aimed to offer a safe space in which:
- Children could encounter the Christian faith in a spirit of enquiry,
- Children could encounter a range of Christian concepts,
- Children’s personal enquiry into faith will be cultivated, but the journey remains theirs.
The pupils of Parson Cross undoubtedly have enquiring minds. One of the activities offered to older pupils invited them to ‘ask God a question’. Questions surfaced around life after death, fears, futures, war, jobs.
Linking to this half term’s school value of ‘thankfulness’, some activities invited pupils to give thanks, with younger pupils using playdough, and all pupils thinking about food and family. Drawing on the schools vision of ‘Believe, Achieve, Celebrate’, one activity encouraged children to celebrate their strengths, hoping to re-enforce self-belief, by inviting pupils to create pom-pom monsters on which they could write prayers of thanks for their God-given gifts and talents. Other activities invited participants to explore themes of forgiveness, hope and compassion – for example through lighting (LED) candles and writing prayers for the world. Students engaged well across all year groups – reading some of the prayers, questions and comments was both humbling and insightful.
The success of the prayer space benefitted greatly from staff engagement, modelling enquiry and an openness to engage with the prayer activities, in ways which may be quite different from their own tradition or experience. A number of Governors were able to come and assist, notably with the Reception pupils, and in the after-school sessions offered to parents and carers alongside pupils. Strengthening parental appreciation of the Christian values of the school was highlighted in our previous SIAMS report as an area for development. I was pleasantly encouraged by the number of parents who participated in the prayer space – they were by no means all ‘regular attenders at church on a Sunday morning’. One such parent notably enquired as to whether this ‘would be happening every week’?!
Ultimately the prayer space could not have happened without the support of the senior leadership team of the school, and their willingness to prioritise this event within the life of the school community.
Phil Goodacre, Prayer space host.