JUST one in 10 British adults who was bereaved as a child felt their school was very supportive at the time of the death, a YouGov poll has found.
The survey, commissioned by national charity Child Bereavement UK, revealed that the majority of people who experienced the death of someone close during childhood do not feel they received a high level of support from their school.
The charity held its National Schools Conference in Manchester on Friday, 11 November to provide school staff from around the country with the opportunity to consider how best to deal with death and bereavement in schools.
Ben and Brianna’s dad, Phil, died on 21 June, 2014 after experiencing heart problems.
Brianna, now aged 12, received good support from her school, but 16-year -old Ben’s experience was very different.
He said: “I wanted to get on with things and go back to school straight away.
“I only told one friend what had happened, I didn’t want anyone else knowing because I didn’t want to be bothered by everyone with questions. But in my first lesson the teacher pulled me out to talk about it and when I went back in everyone was questioning me.
I would have rather it if someone had just spoken to me at the end of the day. In the second lesson I was forced to give a presentation and everyone was asking me why I didn’t want to do it, so then I just told everyone that my dad had died. The day then escalated with everyone asking questions.
I got on with it but it was tough. There was nothing in place at the school to support me – I didn’t even know if all the teachers knew what had happened. There wasn’t a lot of communication.”
Penny added: “We found out on the Saturday (that Phil had died) and it threw us into chaos. What do we do next? You’re faced with Monday morning and the kids both just got up and wanted to go to school.
The support from each school couldn’t have been more different. Brianna’s teachers even went to the funeral and that meant so much to her.
But Ben didn’t have that support and I think it’s something schools need to look at because it’s so important.”
Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.
The charity has a dedicated For Schools section on its website containing information, resources and a sample bereavement policy; it also provides training for school staff, an award-winning online learning programme and a specially designed classroom resource called Elephant’s Tea Party.
Research shows that young people with unresolved bereavement issues are more likely to underachieve academically.
One in 29 schoolchildren has been bereaved of a parent or sibling* and every 22 minutes a parent dies leaving dependent children.* (*ONS)
Shirley Potts, North Development Lead for Child Bereavement UK, also spoke at the National Schools Conference last week.
She said: “There are 111 newly bereaved children in the UK every day – a startling statistic.
The majority of these children will be in school and staff can play a huge part with the support they give.
This new figure we have that just one in 10 British adults who were bereaved as a child felt their school was very supportive at the time of the death is a concern.
Hopefully by educating school staff at conferences and with training we can help ensure better bereavement support is given to young people who need it.”
To find out more about Child Bereavement UK’s training, support and resources for schools, call the charity’s helpline on 0800 02 888 40 or visit www.childbereavementuk.org
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2036 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th – 30th June 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
Notes for Editors
About the charity:
Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement. Every year we train more than 8000 professionals, helping them to better understand and meet the needs of grieving families.
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