Death: Education

Department for Education written question – answered at on 9 March 2022.

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Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the provision of education on death, dying and bereavement in (a) primary schools at key stages 1 and 2 and (b) secondary schools at key stages 3 and 4.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what resources are available nationally to support teachers when discussing death, dying and bereavement in (a) primary schools Key Stages 1 and 2 and (b) secondary schools Key Stages 3 and 4.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of changes in the level of awareness of death, dying and bereavement among school-age children as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department wants to support all young people to be happy, healthy, safe, to equip them for their adult life and to make a positive contribution to society.

Schools and colleges have an important role to play in supporting the resilience and mental health of children and young people. We have made relationships education compulsory for all primary school pupils, relationships, and sex education compulsory for all secondary school pupils, and health education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools from September 2020.

Under the topic of physical health and mental wellbeing, the statutory relationship, sex, and health education (RSHE) guidance sets out that teachers should be aware of common adverse childhood experiences. For example, family breakdown, bereavement, exposure to domestic violence, and when and how these may be affecting any of their pupils. This will help teachers to tailor their lessons accordingly, taking decisions on appropriate resources and support to enable them to teach the curriculum effectively. Teachers are free to draw on the support and expertise of subject associations and other providers of curriculum support. The RSHE guidance can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.

In response to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on mental health and wellbeing, the department accelerated the RSHE teacher training module relating to mental health to be available in July 2020. The department subsequently provided £15 million for the Wellbeing for Education Return and Wellbeing for Education Recovery schemes. These schemes provided training and support for education staff in schools and colleges in how to respond to COVID-19 outbreak issues. They also included a focus on supporting children and young people with bereavement. Local areas continue to share examples of practice and lesson plans covering themes such as bereavement and loss, understanding anxiety and low mood, and actions for building resilience and recovery, with us and each other.

The department has made no assessment of the changes in the level of awareness of death, dying, and bereavement among school-age children because of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the department has published its report, which provides an in-depth picture of the experiences of children and young people aged 5 to 24 during the 2020/21 academic year. The report can be accessed here : https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-of-the-nation-2021-children-and-young-peoples-wellbeing.

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