Stonehouse Park Infant School Gloucestershire .:

The head teacher Rachel Edwards contacted me in relation to a recent bereavement. A member of staff had died suddenly leaving the whole school is a state of shock. Fairly typically staff provided excellent support for the children and their parents, indeed anyone who was showing signs of distress.

They did not, however pay attention to their own needs. Rachel who is a very experienced head recognised the importance of providing some time for them and we discussed what would be most helpful.

I have collaborated on many occasions with Samaritans and formed a particularly good relationship with one. We developed a resource for schools and colleges on how best to support people following bereavement. We also delivered training to a variety of groups which was well received. I therefore contacted her to work with me.

We fixed a date after school when staff had the time allocated purely for them. We gave them the chance to talk about how they were feeling. One of the most useful parts of the discussion was that whilst the staff fully appreciated the importance of time and space allocated in the church for the immediate family. They regarded themselves as another “family” and really wished they could ask to be near the front and not left outside as many were anticipated to attend the funeral.

Some people cried and others stayed quiet, we acknowledged the grief cycle and how some individuals move through it quite quickly whilst others take time. There is no right or wrong it is very personal. We explored what is helpful and what is not along with looking at some resources for staff. We also highlighted some classroom activities and books for the children.

Sometime later Rachel contacted me regarding another session she wanted to run, this time with a very specific emphasis upon staff wellbeing in a very holistic sense. The atmosphere at the school is a very positive one with emotional warmth being felt upon entering the building. Therefore it was an absolute pleasure working with a receptive audience. We provided a number of activities and staff engaged really well. Again the message around one size not fitting all was made in relation to finding ways to promote your own wellbeing. Various suggestions and tools were explored with an introduction to positive psychology through the use of strength cards enabling staff to realise their own particular capabilities and the importance of taking care of their own wellbeing.