- Performance issues - School is mentally tiring and so is grieving. There may be an impact on a pupil’s academic performance in the short and/or the long term. Under pressure - A high performing pupil may look for safety in perfectionism or put themselves under additional pressure to do well - perhaps so as not to worry their parents or carers. They may want to achieve things for the person who has died. Can't concentrate - An underperforming pupil may find it hard to see the point of school work when bigger, more immediate, things are happening in their lives, such as a new home, or new responsibilities in the absence of a parent. Sometimes a pupil may simply have difficulty concentrating and need more help than usual.
- Bullying - Bereaved pupils may stand out as different and become targets for teasing and bullying.
- Boundaries - Maintain usual expectations of appropriate behaviour. Make parents and carers aware of any disciplinary issues with the grieving pupil. Whilst normal disciplinary standards should be maintained parents/carers need to know if there are issues at school, and may be able to provide an insight into why they are happening now and how the pupil can be supported
- Boost self-esteem - Bereaved pupils often have lower self-esteem but may also have a maturity beyond their years and more empathy towards others experiencing loss and change. It is important to consider ways to build their self-esteem through reinforcement of their skills, attributes and experiences.
- Look for signs of distress - It is important to be aware of behaviours that may indicate that the pupil needs additional external support and to be aware of what is available in your local area.
- Stay vigilant - Don't assume that because it happened a while ago that the pupil is no longer grieving. The pupil's situation, their understanding and maturity will change and grief will continue to impact throughout life.
- Communicating with parents - Both positive and negative news from school need to be communicated to the parent or carer. It is particularly important to share positive feedback about the bereaved pupil's progress. This will make a big difference to a grieving parent, and the acknowledgement will enhance the self-esteem of the pupil.
- Building a policy - school plays a very important role in supporting bereaved pupils. Whilst each school will vary in the ways in which they do this, all schools need to think ahead and plan for how they might support pupils. Drawing together a group of staff who can develop a bereavement policy can be extremely helpful. Having a bereavement policy to consult can help to reduce some of the stress and anxiety that result when there is a death in the school community.
- Ongoing support - a bereaved pupil needs to be offered a trusted adult who can listen to them. Talk with the pupil about who this might be. Give options of available support and let the pupil decide.
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