The bereavement team

After a bereavement, there are a number of important roles that staff will need to play.

When assigning roles within the bereavement team, it’s important to consider any training and relevant experience that staff members have, as well as any factors (including personal circumstances) that may make a role within the bereavement team particularly challenging for any staff member.

The core roles and their responsibilities are listed below:

Team leader

Responsible for assigning roles and arranging substitute roles if a team member is unavailable. A deputy should also be appointed, in case the team leader is unavailable.

Lead contact with the family

Responsible for contacting the family, and acting as a conduit between the family and school. This role should be held by the headteacher, or another member of the senior leadership team, and will take responsibility for contacting the family to pass on condolences from school, and finding out key facts. Later, they will support the child as they return to school and re-integrate into the class environment.

Media and internal spokesperson

Responsible for liaising with the media and the delivery of all internal and external communications. This role should be held by the headteacher, or another member of the senior leadership team. See Key stages of response for more information.

Dedicated support staff

When a child returns to school after a bereavement, dedicated support staff should be available to offer support at all times. They will also work with the senior leadership team to establish a network of support services and provide resources for staff and pupils.

Contact details for bereavement team members should be kept up to date and be accessible by all staff, including outside of school hours. You should also ensure that there are staff available to cover key roles if a team member is unavailable or unable to carry out their role.

See Key stages of response for more information.

Preparing the bereavement team once notified of a sudden bereavement

Contact all members of the bereavement team as quickly as possible after finding out that a pupil has been bereaved.

If any team members are unavailable, find appropriate replacements.

Explain to all team members what has happened and what has been agreed with the family.

Put careful plans in place to ensure you are following the recommendations of your bereavement policy and agree how communications will be handled.

Prepare for any questions that may be asked.