Teachers need to support pupils as much as possible if they are dealing with family bereavement. Lessons on change, loss and bereavement should be taught in the classroom as part of a planned programme of PSHE education. Pupils should engage with this complex and sensitive topic in discussions and activities facilitated by a teacher, within a safe classroom environment.
However, at times when there has been a bereavement in the school community the priority is for pastoral care rather than preventative education, so we would direct teachers to Child Bereavement UK, Winston’s Wish, Hope Again and Grief Encounter. All offer excellent guidance that teachers may find useful to forward to parents and pupils, as well as helpline options.
Pupils who have experienced bereavement are highly vulnerable, and multiple losses increase that vulnerability. Bereaved pupils sometimes increase their absence levels, either because they can become prone to illness or they may be reluctant to leave the support or reassurance of family members at home. This should be dealt with in the same way as all absence, though with increased sensitivity and offers of support. Bereaved pupils may well behave or react differently to how they have in the past, and this can make their friendships vulnerable. All pupils need to learn how to be patient and supportive when someone has lost someone close to them, and recognise that recovery takes many forms but it takes time.
Child Bereavement UK helps children, parents and families to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies. They support children and young people up to the age of 25 who are facing bereavement, and anyone affected by the death of a child of any age.
They have a dedicated area on their site which brings together relevant guidance and information to help support young people during this challenging time.
Winston’s Wish supports bereaved children, young people, their families, and the professionals who support them.
They have information, advice and guidance on supporting bereaved children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak, and updated services and opening times.
Hope Again is Cruse Bereavement Care's website for young people. Cruse is a national charity that provides support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone close to them dies. They also work to enhance society’s care of bereaved people.
Their advice for parents and guardians outlines practical ways to support your child/young person after the death of a loved one.
Grief Encounter is one of the UK’s leading bereaved child charities, providing free, pioneering services and support to bereaved children, young people and their families.
They update their advice regularly, and use their social media channels to offer additional support with counsellor-led activity suggestions to help parents and carers support their children at home.