We are really keen to see schools having prayer spaces regularly, to give students plenty of opportunities to pray or reflect. Perhaps you are wondering how you can include prayer and reflection more into the life and ethos of your school? We have provided some tips below to support you in this area of school life.
Get the students involved!
This could be done in a number of ways:
- Set up a ‘prayer group’ or ‘worship council’ (or a similar name)- students who are responsible for writing prayers for whole school assemblies/ year group assemblies, as well as prayer or worship projects e.g. helping with a communal prayer and reflection display, or planning activities for a permanent whole school prayer space or reflective corners in the classrooms.
- Ask different classes to write prayers for the school each term
- Ask different classes or key stages to write prayers based on your school’s values, which could then be displayed or kept in a book to be used in assemblies/collective worship
- Provide daily opportunities in class, or as a whole school, for prayer and reflection. E.g. Give students a time of quiet before lunchtime or at the end of the school day
“When we wanted to embed opportunities for prayer within the school day, Lucie, from BeSpace, suggested endless ideas that would integrate prayer easily into school life. We started with the school values and how we could develop prayers for each value. This work is now led by a class teacher and a group of children. The children are creating a book of prayers that can be shared in the classroom and as part of Collective Worship. Lucie helped develop our reflection time sessions that we offer at lunchtime. She suggested ideas that are easily achievable and are engaging for children”
(Fiona Hawkins, Headteacher, St Barnabas CE Primary School Oxford)
Here are some ideas for projects that could be completed by key stages or throughout the whole school:
- Have an RE day/week focused on prayer– this could be across different religions, comparing two religions or simply focus on how one religion uses prayer and reflection
- ‘Big Questions’– have questions that deal with ‘big’ themes read out in assembly/collective worship or in the classroom (for example during the register at the beginning of the day) for students to ponder or discuss. This provides them with time to reflect on the bigger themes in life, to create a sense of awe and wonder, and to help them realise that some questions may have many answers, or sometimes questions can’t really be answered.
- Using P4C (Philosophy for Children) sessions, Circle Time or RE lesson time to give students opportunities to express their responses through prayer/quiet reflection
- Create an outdoor (or indoor as well!) prayer trail– students could construct prayers, thoughts, or poems for the trail that could have stations around the school. You could even have a school competition to design a logo that could be put onto each station, to identify it as a prayer/reflection trail. Students could also help to create a map of the prayer trail which could be displayed at the front of the school, for others to follow and also to highlight its existence within the school.
- Class prayers– these could be used in different ways. For example at the beginning of the year, each class could construct a prayer/reflection together that can be used throughout the year, perhaps using the school’s values as a prompt.
- Prayer/reflection areas in the classroom– the students could be involved with coming up with ideas for these. They could focus on different seasons of the year, or perhaps a different school value each term, to focus the students’ prayers and reflections. They could also link to assembly/collective worship themes, or help the students to think through a relevant topic for the class e.g. something that has been discussed in circle time recently, or a topic that has been in the news recently which has caused concern and brought questions forward from the students.
Using RE lessons/sessions
- Have a member of the local religious community to visit. E.g. have a Q & A session about prayer and reflection
- Create some RE plans with a prayer focus– to help the students critically compare and contrast different ways of praying and reflecting and then to consider their own opinion; have research-based lessons; focus on expressing their ideas through art and music. BeSpace have developed a few lesson plans for RE focusing on prayer- please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Prayer/reflection Scrapbooks– each class could have a book to record more practical activities, such as the class prayer/reflection area being used, or class discussions on prayer or ‘Big Questions’, or ideas on how they would order the school’s values and why. This could include photographs, post-it notes or comments from the students, it doesn’t need to be time consuming! This can be a simple and interesting way to gather evidence of a broader and more practical RE curriculum, to show to Ofsted or SIAMS inspectors, or governors who are responsible for RE or SMSC monitoring.