Bereavement in schools

There is a new petition to add content on death, dying and bereavement to the national curriculum which has now reached over 10,000 signatures. As it is over 10,000 signatures, it will receive a government response. 

The petition, started by John Adams, President of the National Association of Funeral Directors, aims to include age-appropriate education to support and help children to understand death by adding to the existing education provided by schools on relationships. 

The National Association of Funeral Directors notes that, on average, 111 children in the UK lose a parent every day. By equipping children with the skills to comprehend death, it may help them prepare and process the emotions that accompany a bereavement, which we will likely all encounter at some point during our lives. This may be particularly relevant for students following the recent tragic events at Epsom College. 

Some schools have started to introduce and adopt bereavement or compassionate leave policies to help support students and staff who have recently experienced the death of a family member or where a close relative has a life-threatening illness or injury.  

Bereavement and compassionate leave policies set out how much time off and pay staff are entitled to and how managers can respond to and support staff after a bereavement. Schools can choose to extend policies to also cover close friends of staff who have died, or are seriously unwell, and pregnancy loss if there is no separate policy. 

If your school is considering developing a bereavement or compassionate leave policy, you may wish to consider the following:

  • Whether it will apply to all staff in the school
  • Will there be a limit on when compassionate leave will be given and how much will the school provide (outside any statutory requirements) 
  • Whether there are any additional qualifying criteria (such as length of service) for paid leave (outside any statutory requirements) 

How Moore Barlow can help

If you would like support in developing a bereavement or other policy, please contact one of our independent schools’ lawyers today. 

We are trusted legal advisers to senior leaders and governors of leading independent schools of all shapes and sizes, providing advice and support on all the key legal and strategic issues arising from normal operations and things that happen unexpectedly.