Bereaved School Pupils
Recent survey findings, from the bereavement charity the Amy and Tom project and Co-operative Funeralcare, found that seven in ten schools surveyed said they lacked sufficient resources and access to services to support these vulnerable pupils affected by bereavement. The poll of almost 100 UK schools found 57% of bereaved pupils had difficulty joining in group activities or debates. The schools surveyed had an average of two children bereaved each year. The Schools Health Education Unit published, in 1995, research into methods to consult children on the content of the health education curriculum. The paper was the culmination of many years work and described the development and outcome of the methods that involved consulting children, parents and other adults connected to the schools. Consultations involved both primary and secondary schools resulting in nationally recognised survey methods that continue to be used today and are particularly effective when developing local health promotion programmes. Among the rich source of data, that emerged from the research, were findings that provide an additional insight into the recent results about bereaved school pupils. Commenting on results from the survey methods used in primary schools in the 1980s, John Balding found that one of the topics, that caused the biggest mismatch between the ranks of adults and pupils, concerned 'Death and bereavement'. This topic was rated much higher in the rankings, of importance, by pupils. It was considered that this difference may reflect: adult's reluctance to deal with the issue themselves, or, adults' reluctance to trouble children with this issue, or, a lack of understanding of how these issues might constructively be dealt with in the classroom ( a frequent comment at school survey meetings). It is unsurprising that children remain deeply affected by bereavement. However, with the developments in knowledge about health education over the last three decades, it is surprising that adults, connected to education, still appear to be less concerned than their pupils about the importance of bereavement, its effects on pupils and how to support children at school.