School pupils and their understanding of significant change and losses in life.
Wallace, Rebecca M. M.
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SCOTT, R., WALLACE, R. and AUDSLEY, A. 2017. School pupils and their understanding of significant change and losses in life. Aberdeen: Robert Gordon University.
The impact of bereavement in childhood is significant. The Childhood Bereavement Network suggests that 78% of 11-16 year olds in the UK have experienced the death of a close relative or friend. Children respond to bereavement in different ways depending on their age and understanding of death. Further evidence suggests that bereaved children experience considerable anxiety in addition to underachieving at school. Pallium Canada, who funded the research, is a Canadian national organisation created to improve the quality of hospice and palliative care services through the development and dissemination of peer-reviewed education, resources and clinical decision-making tools for interprofessional health care providers. Pallium Canada's Compassionate Schools initiative defines a compassionate school as one that includes death education as part of its curriculum and policies and provides a supportive community for pupils, staff and parents. Pallium Canada highlights that 'all natural cycles of sickness and health, birth and death, and love and loss occur every day within these educational institutions.' This study, involving pupils, parents and staff, sought to understand young people's perceptions of loss, death and dying. This collaborative qualitative pilot study was undertaken in conjunction with colleagues in Canada and was designed to gain knowledge of how children of different ages understand loss, death and dying; the support they access and their awareness of what is available to them. The pupils in Canada were of primary school age; whereas the study's Scottish component involved one secondary school with participants aged between 12-18 years. This report focuses on the findings from the Scotland study.