By creating a clear and robust policy the school can provide a framework for school staff members to address death and the consequences of death. A school policy will enable staff members to feel more confident when working with bereaved students and they will be able to support them more efficiently.
Such a policy will also include concise guidelines for those staff members supporting a bereaved child or young person and help support staff to deal with a sensitive and often difficult subject. The creation of such a policy will require input from all members of the school staff team and you may wish to contact your local / regional Cruse Bereavement Care branch for advice on what such a policy could include in order to best support bereaved children and young people. During the staff consultation stage you may want to think about including the following to form part of your policy.
- Designated, named members of the school staff who will provide support to bereaved children and young people in the event of a death.
- How to inform students / colleagues about a death and what to do when you are required to tell a student that someone close to them has died.
- What support will be offered to staff / students if they have been bereaved.
- What do in the case of a crisis or disaster situation on school premises or on a school trip.
- How to recognise common symptoms and behaviours associated with grief.
- The contact details of local and national support agencies specialising in bereavement such as Cruse Bereavement Care.
- How to deal with media interest surrounding a death and designating two / three members of staff to act as media coordinators.
It is important that the staff members appointed to provide support to bereaved children and young people have received the appropriate training beforehand and are supported by senior colleagues when offering such support. Cruse Bereavement Care provides training and consultancy for school staff to enable them to support bereaved children and young people and safeguard the physical, emotional and mental well being of their students.
It might be useful for the school to stock bereavement resource packs containing information for children and young people of all ages to use when they have been bereaved. Cruse Bereavement Care stocks a large catalogue of leaflets, books and other resources designed to help support bereaved children and young people through the grieving process.