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News: Bereavement should be on the school curriculum, report suggests

Posted 21 September, 2022 by Nina Joynson

The National Childhood Bereavement Project has submitted its final report to the Scottish Government, with recommendations to improve support for bereaved children and young people.

The Growing Up Grieving report has found that the sector is failing to meet the practical needs of bereaved children due to a lack of service coordination and support for young people.

A new approach to grief in schools 

The report recommends that schools need a new four-point approach to grief, spanning policy, staff training and pupil education.

This would involve adding death and bereavement to Curriculum for Excellence (where there is currently no formal mention), with acknowledgement of different cultural and religious practices and the requirements of pupils with additional support needs.

The research also found large disparities exist between different schools' procedures around death and grief, advising that a universal bereavement policy is needed to make support equal across Scottish schools.

The third and fourth points of the proposed approach suggest providing educators with greater support, after evidence showed that teachers lack confidence in managing pupils experiencing grief.

The report recommends that all school staff undertake mandatory bereavement training, while a nationally accessible resource bank of guidance and educational materials should be available for teachers.

The project

Delivered by Includem, the National Childhood Bereavement Project was commissioned by the Scottish Government to take a strategic overview of childhood bereavement services and experiences across Scotland.

It engaged 100 people with experiences of childhood bereavement and more than 250 people who work supportively with bereaved children and young people.

Seven recommendations

Along with a new approach to grief in schools, the report makes six recommendations to the Scottish Government:

  • Embed commitments for improved bereavement support into wider national priorities
  • Promote greater awareness of bereavement amongst children and young people to normalise the grief process
  • Establish a national secretariat for childhood bereavement to improve sector coordination
  • Develop accessible advice for children and young people on what to do when someone dies
  • Create compassionate, grief-aware places of work and learning
  • Establish a bereavement grant for those left in precarious financial positions after the death of a primary income earner.

Click here to read the Growing Up Grieving report