Don’t overlook the need of learners with SEND to grieve too

In this blog Pauline Holbrook, our Head of SEND reflects on how we might support our learners with SEND understand death and their grief and that of others.

As a nation we are once again coming together to honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11. Unfortunately, at this time unlike a few months ago when we celebrated 70 years of her reign as our queen we are now united in grief at her passing.

Death is part of all our lives and over the last couple of years many more of our students will have experienced the loss of someone close to them. The needs of learners with SEND in the grieving process can be overlooked or forgotten. This can be because we don’t want to upset our students by discussing death, feeling that they are not old enough to understand or not cognitively able to understand the concept of death. Yet we acknowledge that an infant is likely to become upset if they are not aware of their mother or other loving persons presence. Students with SEND may also take longer to show grief and/or express their grief in different ways.

We cannot nor should we protect our students from experiencing grief associated with death. We need to have the confidence to discuss death with our students using all our skills and knowledge of how best to communicate and the language to use to help them understand the images they are seeing on TV, social media and in the press.

There are few resources that support colleagues working with students with SEND understand death and help them to express their feelings of grief. Here are two excellent resources which will support colleagues respond to everyone regardless of age, special educational need or cognitive ability.

As we come together during this period of national mourning, our sadness is as deep as our respect and gratitude for Her Majesty’s long reign, commitment, and dedicated service we along with the students in our schools will need time to process and remember in our own way. In the same way as we must not overlook the grief within our students neither must we overlook our grief and that of our colleagues.

Pauline Holbrook
Head of SEND

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