More about Paganel School Prayer Spaces

Steve Philp writes about the Paganel School Prayer Spaces from his perspective as Deputy Head Teacher:Paganel Prayer Space Prayer on leaf TWO

“I’ve often pondered on the difficulties of sharing my faith in the primary schools where I have worked. I’ve wondered about a Christian Union – a lunchtime Bible club or similar, but the age of the children at primary school makes that all feel a bit brainwashy. Of course the law states that all schools should hold a daily act of worship that is ‘broadly Christian’ – this has been interpreted in different ways – in some schools you may find that there is a generic prayery thing to some amorphous god-entity. In others this may mean that the act of worship is Christian 51% of the time and represents some other religion on the other occasions.

“The reality is that unless the school is a church school (and mine isn’t), the ‘act of worship’ will depend heavily on the teacher. This means that most children do not experience authentic Christian acts of worship at school, as most teachers aren’t Christians. There are exceptions of course, but the legal ‘daily act of worship’ is something of a myth in most state primary schools.Paganel Prayer Space Prayer on leaf

“This is why I was delighted to hear about Prayers Spaces in Schools, and even more delighted when Emma and Kate came to school to explain how it would work for us.

“The week began with an assembly led by Emma and Kate where they taught the school how to pray with the Lord’s Prayer as a model. Then throughout the week each child spent 45 minutes in the prayer space, normally in groups of fifteen, moving to different stations. Each station was brilliantly supported by a member of St. John’s who helped the children reflect and think about concepts such as repentance and forgiveness.

“Many of our children commented on how peaceful and relaxing it was – some came away saying “that was awesome.” Even some of the staff who had previously been sceptical found the sessions helpful and rewarding. It was one child in particular that made me realise how effective it had been. This child, whose family were of a Faith other than Christianity had previously been refused permission to go to the Christmas Tour because it was deemed too Christian. However the child so enjoyed the sessions that they took their mother around the Prayer Space after school, and she too took the experience really seriously and told us how valuable it had been.

“Following the Prayer Space week, the headteacher decided that he would like a permanent Prayer Space / thinking station and asked Emma and Kate to come back and do another day in the following term. The permanent station would be set up in the Nurture room where our learning mentor works.”Paganel Prayer Space Prayer Tree

“Overall I would say that it has been fantastic to have something distinctively Christian in my school that has been a real positive to the whole school community. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what some of our Year 6 children wrote when they were reporting on it:

“The room was very soothing and quiet and it was very nice to let some feelings what are on your mind can be let out. It was also good because I could talk too very understanding people.”

“It was very calm and peaceful. I was very happy that is was calm and to get away from all of the talking. It was very good because it was relaxing.”

“I thought that it was absolutely brilliant for children. The people were named Kate and Emma were really nice and friendly to us all.”

“It was extremely calm and relaxing in Prayer Space in Schools : it helped everyone think.”Paganel Prayer Space Duck pond

14th May 2013 Posted in: News, St John's Stories by Stella Jennings 0

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