Appendix 1: External resources

Contextual Background (as at May 2020)

The Church of England’s Vision for Education embraces the spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, moral and social development of children and young people, offering a vision of human flourishing for all.  To support that flourishing we need to equip school leaders so that they can respond with wisdom effectively to the current situation.  If there has been a bereavement in the school family, they will be faced with the challenge that each bereavement is different and each member of the school community is different and therefore their need for support will vary.

School leaders need to have someone to talk things through with (to think out loud).  They need to be proactive rather than reactive when responding to the challenges; this way they can support their staff, pupils and families better.  The leaders may be thinking “… what if I miss something?..” “…am I doing this right?” Therefore, having a named person / point of contact through a local church, or Diocese would be helpful to arrange. 

Through the guidance in the resource Valuing All God’s Children leaders will find that school staff can facilitate the living of the element of ‘dignity’ ensuring that every child is shown that they can flourish at this difficult time.  All children being human beings fully formed in the image of God and loved by God (Genesis 1:27).  They need to be listened to, respected and given time to talk and express their feelings.  They need to know that there is someone there for them to talk to about anything they need to talk about linked to the death of their special person.  They may have experienced the adults in their family trying to shield them from the reality of the situation, so having time to express their concerns / worries and thoughts is of great importance to help them make sense of what has happened. They need to learn that people act in different ways and there’s no ‘right way’ to grieve.

So, if the pupil/s is/are attending school this support could easily be put in place, but if they are not currently in school, the school can make the family aware of what the school have in place to support the child e.g. someone to speak to over the phone or virtually, on-line book of remembrance, a class or school Book of Memories etc.  Also making them aware of other ideas which are available on the Church of England website,  such as lighting a virtual candle, a prayer card, a sympathy card,  there is also a ‘Simple Reflection at Home’ for the day of a funeral they can’t attend.

The healing process is usually a long-term and the memory of a bereavement will last a lifetime.  It is important to remember this at any transitional time in the pupil’s school career. As there currently can’t be normal funeral services, wakes or gatherings after the funeral at the moment, it’s even more important that the children are encouraged to be part of whatever it is the family are doing to remember their special person.  Perhaps they could be involved in designing a gathering that can be organised at a later date to remember their special person when more people can be present. 

However, at this time, when ‘community’ is the people living in your home, a broader understanding of community will be rather challenging to address until the day when we can once again be together in our school and church communities.  It could be helpful therefore for school staff to start to plan an act of worship to cover the months since the school has been semi-closed as many of the pupils / students and staff may know someone who has been affected by the Coronavirus. This could be publicised in the school’s newsletter and on their website, so if pupils would like to add their thoughts and ideas to the formation of this act of worship they have the opportunity.

Some schools may also find it appropriate to identify and area in the school which could become a safe space for pupils to go to. They could involve the pupils (virtually) with this too.  They might also find it appropriate to hold a collection when the pupils all return to school and from that they could plant a tree or add a feature to the outside space so that their special person or people can still be part of school life and conversations.

Organisations and resources for schools and families
Diocesan websites