Bereavement in schools: When death happens

To mark Children’s Grief Awareness Week – November 15 to 21 – Alison Penny considers how schools can be better prepared to support children who are coming to terms with the death of someone close in  Headteacher Update.

“I had to break the news to my form that a member of our class had died. I was devastated. They were too. I had little support to manage and was a new teacher. I have since fought for training, support and guidance but it’s still limited.”
Child Bereavement UK, 2018

Child Bereavement UK’s recent survey of more than 1,000 teachers (2018) found that while the majority had experienced a death within the school community, many felt ill-equipped to manage it.

School is a key context for young people who are grieving the death of someone significant in their life. The death of a parent or sibling is often followed by many other changes at home, and school can provide support and continuity through these major upheavals and challenges.

Despite the policy focus, schools clearly struggle to meet the needs of many grieving pupils. Only a third of respondents to Child Bereavement UK’s survey felt that their school was equipped to manage a death when it happened in the school community. Almost half felt that training would help a school to prepare, but identified a number of barriers to accessing this, including budget (68 per cent), pressure on time (33 per cent), availability and awareness (10 per cent), and school priorities (seven per cent).

Read more about how schools can help in these difficult times Bereavement in schools: When death happens 

Have you found yourself in this situation and had no training on how to deal with it? How can schools help? Would you like to receive training? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin


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Categories: Employment, Infant, Leadership, Mental Health, Primary, Secondary, Training and Uncategorized.


  1. Anonymous

    My grandad died the morning of my AO French exam. I wouldn’t have dreamt of telling my teachers or friends and my parents wouldn’t have dreamt of telling school to give me special treatment. Teachers today are responsible for the snowflake generation and should be held accountable for all the damage they do to children by having such low emotional expectations of them.

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