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SeeSaw offers a specialised service to schools to help staff understand how young people might react to bereavement and what strategies can be used to support them in the classroom. 

Many bereaved young people have told us what a difference it makes to be supported in school by teachers who understand what they are going through. Staff want to do their best for their pupils but may feel quite daunted when faced with a student devastated by the loss of someone they love.

Staff may need support to grapple with what to do, what to say and what to expect, and Lesley is available at the end of a phone to offer whatever information, advice and training is needed. 

School staff have the ability to make an enormous difference to the way children cope after a bereavement. Teachers often only need the right information and support to give them the confidence to share a child’s bereavement journey. SeeSaw can help staff develop that confidence.

We can support schools in several ways.

Telephone support for schools

If you are supporting a bereaved pupil you may find it helpful to talk with us. 

Bereaved children and young people tell us what a difference it makes if they feel supported by school staff after the death of someone they love. Every pupil will grieve in their own unique way and the way they react and the support they need will differ. 

 

We can’t always ‘get it right’ but it can help to think through what is going on for your pupil and how you can put things in place to help them feel supported. It is important to remember that young people may revisit grief as they develop, even years after a death. It is really helpful to know about any bereavements that your pupils have experienced to allow greater sensitivity in teaching and pastoral support. This particularly applies when children bereaved in primary school move to their secondary school who may not know what has happened.

In this initial conversation we might discuss the importance of:                                             

  • Acknowledging the death with the parent/carer and student – simple, genuine expressions of sympathy to the family, plus reassurances of support for the pupil in school, are often hugely appreciated.
  • Communicating news about the death to other staff and students.
  • Identifying what support is needed to help the student manage in school.
  • Being prepared to listen if the student wants to talk.
  • Awareness of how the news affects others – being sensitive to the impact of the death on other students and members of staff.
  • Looking out for changes in behaviour or attitude to work and relationships with friends that could indicate the need for more support.
  • Would a school visit be helpful? 

School visits

A school visit may be with an individual teacher or learning mentor who is providing individual support for a grieving pupil or with a group of staff who have been affected by the death of a member of the school community. It is a chance to share concerns, talk about how grief might affect students and develop strategies to support them over time. When a school has been affected by a sudden death of a pupil we will be able to visit the school promptly and will be available by phone on the day of the event.

The Rapid Response Team from the John Radcliffe Hospital meets within 48 hours of a death of a young person to consider the wider bereavement support needs around the death. SeeSaw is called upon by this team and as a result, we often visit the school to offer support to the Headteacher and school staff.

School visits will allow staff to consider the importance of:

  • Watching and listening for any changes in behaviour that may indicate that the student is beginning to struggle.
  • Being aware of any academic or social changes that may cause concern.
  • Checking on any unusual absences.
  • Watching out for children revisiting their grief over time – this can happen years after the event, especially if the death happens when the student was very young and the implications of the loss are not realised and understood until much later.
  • ‘Touching base’ with the student and the family regularly – this way you will be aware of any difficulties or changes that are happening to the wider family and the impact this may have on your pupil.
  • Keeping routines and boundaries in place.  

Bereaved children and young people need the support and understanding of staff in school. Many of the skills needed to support grieving pupils are an extension of those you would use to support any vulnerable pupil.

School training

Our training is tailored to meet the specific needs of your school.

We can offer generalised whole school training as part of a staff meeting or inset day, or we can meet with small groups or individual members of staff to talk about specific issues relating to bereaved pupils.

Some of the training sessions we could offer include:

  • Pre-school children and bereavement
  • Working with bereaved primary age children
  • Teenagers and bereavement 
  • Bereavement and children with special needs.  See Learning Disability Pack download
  • Developing a school bereavement policy  
  • Supporting bereaved pupils in school download
  • Managing a sudden death 
  • Schools and suicide 
  • Pastoral support around bereavement

All our training is delivered by our experienced staff and can be tailored to your needs. You would also get to know us – the SeeSaw staff at the end of a phone for times when you need us for advice, support or consultation. 

Resources

Schools Pack

Download

Young People's Leaflet

Download