Headteachers and senior leaders

"...and then there is you, managing it all at the top..."

If a headteacher or senior staff member takes sole responsibility for managing a bereavement, this might feel overwhelming and may not allow space for their own grief. This can ultimately be detrimental to their wellbeing. A policy can help the headteacher and senior leadership team to put plans and strategies in place to help the headteacher/senior leaders to cope with the death of a pupil or member of staff, and to ensure support is available for those who need it.

The family may ask for the headteacher/SLT to visit the hospital/home of a pupil and perhaps be involved in some of the rituals following the death. If this applies to you, remember to allow yourself time and space to process your grief and emotions.

It may be necessary for the headteacher or a senior leader to attend a Child Death Review meeting. It can help to understand more about what is involved, how the school can contribute, and put support in place for those attending.

Providing space within school and encouraging staff members to talk to each other about their feelings can be very helpful. As a headteacher or senior leader, it is important that you are also able to share your feelings and engage in these conversations, both to support your staff but also to feel supported yourself.

A family may, or may not, wish to have members of staff at the funeral. It may not be possible to enable all those wishing to attend to do so, while ensuring the safe operation of the school. This will need to be managed sensitively to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to say goodbye in their own way.

Further links:

Consultancy, supervision and reflective practice

Developing a bereavement policy or charter

How do you know when you need support?