Earlier this week, TES – a weekly publication aimed at school teachers in the UK– featured an article addressing the need for teachers to have better access to training to be able to support the one in 29 schoolchildren who are bereaved of a parent or sibling.
The article states that not enough teachers are trained to support a grieving child, whilst a Child Bereavement UK (CBUK) survey indicated that fewer than 10 per cent of teachers have had any bereavement training.
Hannah Bridge oversees the Atlas Programme at Compton Care, which aims to equip all staff working in schools with the knowledge, skills and confidence to help pupils navigate their way through their journey of bereavement. It is also available to other professionals working with children outside of the school environment.
She comments: “The article recognised that very few schools have a bereavement policy and less than 10 per cent of teachers have had any bereavement training in the UK. Compton Care’s Atlas Programme is making sure that Wolverhampton and the surrounding area hits way above that statistic by running a series of introductory and advanced courses for any member of school staff free of charge.
“Children are bereaved of parents, siblings, friends, grandparents, teachers, pets and celebrities and may experience other losses too such as a house move or their parents’ marriage breaking down. Death is part of life for our children and always has been so we must acknowledge the long-term impact that bereavement can have on children’s ability to achieve and be happy.
“In 2020, schools will be required to address loss within the PSHE (personal, social and health education curriculum) and this will ensure that words like ‘death’ and ‘dying’ will be given an airing in an environment where children are encouraged to seek pastoral support when they need it. If children are to be helped to feel confident and comfortable when they are faced with their own bereavements or those of their peers, they will need staff who feel supported, competent and trained in this very sensitive area.
“Through direct face-to-face training and support, the Atlas Programme builds confidence so that the ‘D’ words are survivable, and grief is indeed normal.”