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Bereavement in Educational Settings - A Guide for Schools

Anticipatory Grief from NES on Vimeo.

Anticipatory, or 'living' grief, is when someone experiences feelings of loss before a person dies. 
NHS Scotland have produced this short video.

  1. Sudden and Traumatic Death and Bereavement Guide for Schools

    [PDF 1,583KB) - updated April 2022

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  3. Bereavement Support for Families

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Please be advised that the guidance for schools will be uploaded on a regular basis.  Therefore, please only download/print off for each bereavement to have the most up-to-date information available.


The above guidance uses the experience of schools, both locally and nationally who have been through a critical incident.

The information contained in this guidance is intended to enable schools to manage their own difficulties, drawing on their own resources and accessing additional support, advice or information from other agencies where appropriate.

This guidance offers a framework in which to operate, rather than a must do list.  It is not intended to be prescriptive or to attempt to cover all possible events.

The Local Authority expects to support schools in any significant incident. Schools are not expected to cope alone with incidents involving for example, death or anything that attracts intensive media interest.

A school that is well prepared to deal with tragedies is like to be well equipped to respond to other issues relating to loss and bereavement (for example, pupils may experience death of a close relative, parental separation or divorce, or the loss of a pet) and this will also be helping its pupils towards an emotionally literate adult life.

Structure of the Document

Staff in schools who have experienced the death of a pupil expressed that they needed to access some guidance as a matter of urgency to help them deal with the immediate aftermath.

For this reason, the document is structured as follows:

Section 1 - Immediate Actions Following a Sudden Death or Critical Incident: Guidance and Printable Checklist: to be used in the event of a sudden death of a pupil, staff or member of the school community and will assist schools in the aftermath.  The checklist can be completed by schools as required. 

Section 2 - Short-Medium Term Actions: Information and guidance on the short/medium term actions required by a school community

Section 3 - A Whole School Approach to Supporting Bereavement: including curriculum resources and online support

Section 4 - Appendix & Resources

There are also editable templates for individual schools' use.

Audio Books

Child Bereavement UK disclaimer: Please note that this information about services and resources does not constitute a recommendation by Child Bereavement UK, as we are aware that whether a particular resource is helpful or not is a decision that can only be made by each individual.

Training and resources available for the education sector

A comprehensive, step-by-step, online training resource, Supporting a bereaved pupil has been developed by Child Bereavement UK in collaboration with London Grid for Learning. It is a source of support and information, with practical guidance, to empower education professionals to support pupils bereaved of someone important to them. Education professionals will find that by working through the modules, which combine film clips, text, diagrams and pdf downloads, they will have a wider understanding of bereavement and will be more prepared to support their pupils when someone they know has died. 

Managing bereavement: A guide for schools is a downloadable document which will help schools to create a more bereavement aware culture within their community. 

A school with a bereavement policy is prepared and has plans in place to deal with death, grief and bereavement. This applies to supporting a bereaved pupil or member of staff as well as reacting to a critical incident or tragedy, such as the death of someone within the school community. As every school is different and every situation unique, Child Bereavement UK have created a template document with information and guidance to enable schools to create their own flexible bereavement policy or charter which will reflect the schools’ individual ethos, culture and organisation. 

During this coronavirus pandemic, Child Bereavement UK are aware that schools are operating very differently, they have created information sheets for the education sector to help them navigate a bereavement while many of their pupils and staff are working remotely. These are on the education sector area of their website on the Coronavirus – Supporting pupils page. This includes the following information:

Supporting children through difficult times – a film and information sheet.

Delivering sad news – an information sheet to help education professionals, families and carers to tell a young person that someone has died. [PDF 95.6KB]

Managing grief – a guide for education professionals, parents and carers supporting bereaved pupils. [PDF 140KB]

Remembering – collaborative projects for the school community. [PDF 94.4KB]

Children’s understanding of death at different ages.

Additional Coronavirus information - When you can’t visit someone who is ill. 

The Bereavement Guide - Supporting children and young people through grief and loss. [PDF 1,408KB]

By Your Side - Support after suicide in Cumbria booklet [PDF 1,296KB]

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