In September I visited the Prayer Spaces in Schools Day Conference in London. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet other people, hear their stories and share resources.
The day began with an overview of what had been happening over the last 12 months including some incredible figures:
In ten years, there have been 2800 prayer spaces events, that we know of, happen across the world with an estimated 1 million children experiencing them. This is incredible and so encouraging.
Izzie who is 16 shared her experience of prayer spaces in her school explaining how amazing it was and helpful for her as she settled into a new school. She talked about her initial response of “wow” as she walked into the room which had been transformed and how “it helped me to be myself”. She has now left that school to go on to college, but has returned to help out with a Prayer Space event and plans to do more in the future.
The morning continued with a chance to break into groups and talk to other people. We were able to discuss what we did, swap ideas, talk about what had gone well and what hadn’t. It was really interesting to hear other people’s ideas and stories from their experiences.
We were then introduced to the partnership with Christian Aid and had a sneak peak at the “Justice” themed activates which have now been released. These looked at understanding and praying for people around the world. We have already used one of these and hope to use more in the future.
Then Julian Stern, head of Education and Theology at York St John University, and his co-researcher Rachael Shillitoe introduced themselves and went through their Evaluation of Prayer Spaces in Schools: Interim Report. This is a report that they are doing, evaluating the contribution of Prayer Spaces in Schools to the spiritual development of young people. We all had a copy and they went through it, explaining how they’d interviewed children and staff in seven schools as well as using a questionnaire in 24 schools. This report was based on the initial analysis of some of these interviews and questionnaires.
The report goes into detail of what the responses revealed the children were getting out of prayer spaces and how it was helping their spiritual growth. It also looked at some of the controversies and issues that were raised by parents and from further research.
They then concluded that Prayer Spaces in Schools does contribute to the spiritual development of children and young people, however as this was an interim report there was a lot more further research to do and information to analyse.
After lunch we settled back in for a bit of a celebration. These conferences marked 10 years of Prayer Spaces in Schools. We watched a video where we got to see how widespread this movement is. There were flags from all around the world that we pinned around the church representing everywhere that had held prayer spaces (including Guernsey and Jersey). In total 31 countries have been involved.
I attended a workshop on Researching Prayer Spaces which was a conversation with Julian and Racheal. This brought up many interesting topics including how they conducted the interviews, worded the questions and the issues that arose from that. This was a great time to delve into the research more and discuss it further.
I came away from the conference with some great new ideas for activities which I will look into further as well as becoming more aware of the impact that this has on the children in our schools and the possibilities of the future.
We have some prayer spaces events coming up in our schools. If you would like to get involved and volunteer for an hour or two please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also visit www.prayerspacesinschools.com
Photos from Sarah and Prayer Spaces in Schools