December 2014

The know zone

  • Number lessons
    ASCL’s new training DVD aims to give people a deeper understanding of budgets and balance sheets and so help avoid clashes over spending, says Val Andrew. More
  • A window on work
    Karleen Dowden offers five ways that schools and colleges can bring students together with employers to gain insights into the working world. More
  • To grade or not to grade?
    Tony Thornley shares his insights into what an outstanding school looks like and why best practice demands more than ticking Ofsted’s boxes. More
  • Maximise the benefits
    Are you and your staff getting the most out of continuing professional development (CPD)? More
  • ASCL PD events
    ASCL PD runs a number of CPD courses to help school and college leaders motivate their staff. More
  • Last word
    No one in their right mind would join a club and sign up to its regulations and then claim that the rules don’t actually apply to them, would they? So why do some people think that instructions issued by schools can be treated in such a cavalier fashion? More
  • Stronger together
    Exploring how one charity believes it’s possible to rebuild the lives of both bereaved pupils and schools. More
  • Unbalanced view?
    Workload is becoming an increasingly serious problem in schools and colleges. What is your view on this important issue – do you have a healthy work-life balance? Is an increasing workload something that is affecting you and your staff? Here ASCL members share their thoughts. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    More than half of ASCL members are now in academies and many are from independent schools – this month, the hotline has taken several calls from members in these sectors. Below are just a few of the questions our hotline staff have answered, although clearly in the answers there are messages for all members regardless of sector. More
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Exploring how one charity believes it’s possible to rebuild the lives of both bereaved pupils and schools.

Stronger together

In the UK every day about 60 children and young people are bereaved of a parent. By the age of 16, 78 per cent of young people have been bereaved of a close relative or friend. Schools and colleges may also experience the death of a pupil or member of staff. Bereavement is a whole school/ college issue that impacts on everyone. Teachers and staff are sometimes unsure what to say or do, yet how pupils are supported can have significant impacts on long-term outcomes. Evidence suggests that young people who have been bereaved are more likely to be poor attenders, to change school or college, or be excluded, more likely to under-achieve and more at risk of mental health difficulties.

How can schools and colleges help?

Director of Bereavement Services at Child Bereavement UK Dr Ann Rowland said, “Supporting bereaved pupils may feel like a big responsibility, but what most grieving young people need is simply care and concern from adults they trust. At Child Bereavement UK, young people tell us that how schools and colleges respond is something they never forget. Acknowledging the death and communicating with the family and pupil about what they need, and ensuring that the familiar routine of school or college life continues, can help pupils feel safe and secure when their world has fallen apart.”

Are there any resources?

Every death is unique and each pupil will grieve in their own way, but a school or college that has considered a framework as to how they may respond will be better placed to offer support. The schools section of Child Bereavement UK’s website has guidance on this – see

It is important to listen to the voices of young people in terms of what is helpful to them. A free app, Grief: Support for young people has been developed by bereaved young people working with Child Bereavement UK for 11-25 year-olds bereaved of someone important to them. It can also be used by teachers who would like to know how to offer support.

The quality of parenting that young people receive around a bereavement also has a real impact on outcomes; schools and colleges can play a significant role in signposting parents and carers to appropriate information. Child Bereavement UK’s website has an extensive range of information for families, a directory of local organisations across the UK and a family forum. Their support and information line, manned by bereavement support workers, also provides support and guidance to families and schools.

Schools and colleges can take a proactive approach to bereavement by treating death and dying as a normal part of life, creating opportunities to improve emotional literacy and encourage empathy with bereaved peers. Child Bereavement UK’s website includes suggested lesson plans.

CPD for staff

A recent Child Bereavement UK survey indicated that 80 per cent of school staff have had no bereavement training. Training can give staff confidence in what to say and do. Child Bereavement UK runs an extensive training programme, and has an interactive e-learning programme for schools and colleges – see

Find out more

For further support and information, please call 0800 02 888 40.

“Everything seemed really trivial, and all of my work just didn’t really matter to me anymore.” Lydia (aged 17)