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Reports Part of series: Learning for all: BERA Small Grants Fund research reports

Grief matters

Exploring the impact of bereavement & grief on learning for all

This research project involved a collaboration between St Mary’s University and Child Bereavement UK to explore the potential impact on learning for all of child bereavement awareness training as part of initial teacher education (ITE) provision. Supported by BERA’s 2022/23 Small Grants Fund, the study investigated the following research questions:

  • Main research questions: How might bereavement awareness training as part of ITE provision enhance the professional learning of early career teachers? How might this, in turn, support the learning of children and young people in their care?
  • Subsidiary research questions: How do schools support teachers with bereavement training? Should bereavement awareness training be included in ITE provision?

Report summary

Death and grief are common issues in schools with a child bereaved of a parent every 22 minutes in the UK. However, a report on bereavement among children and young people found that 90 per cent of teachers receive no training on coping with death, bereavement and grief (Child Bereavement UK, 2018) and teachers report low confidence in this area (McManus & Paul, 2019). Such a lack of training has been brought into sharper relief as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic (UK Commission on Bereavement, 2022).

This research project involved a collaboration between St Mary’s University and Child Bereavement UK to explore the potential impact on learning for all of child bereavement awareness training as part of initial teacher education (ITE) provision. Data were collected from 113 primary and secondary trainee teachers, across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate teacher training routes, together with insights from five senior school leaders.

The research project highlights the importance, and potential long-lasting impact, of bereavement awareness training for early career teachers. A clear need for further engagement with broader education policy is essential to ensure that greater emphasis is placed on bereavement awareness training in ongoing professional development for everyone who works with children and young people. An intentional focus on bereavement awareness informs the professional learning of early career teachers and provides a secure basis on which to support the learning of pupils in times of grief and transition in schools.

Author

Profile picture of Anna Lise Gordon
Anna Lise Gordon, Professor

Professor of Education at St Mary's University, Twickenham

Anna Lise Gordon is professor of education at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. She started her career as a secondary school teacher, before working as an advisor for a local authority and then in initial teacher education at St Mary’s for...