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Unexpected death of member of staff

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by thejudgesscoresarein, Feb 20, 2020.

  1. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Occasional commenter

    Recieved a phone call today to inform me that one of my members of staff has been killed in a car accident during half term.

    Absolutely devastating news, the colleague (Year 5 Teacher) who was a valued member of staff was only 30. They joined the school in 2011 at the start of the NQT year.

    Most colleagues are already aware of what’s happened, I plan to make an announcement during INSET day and will offer support to all colleagues and pupils (especially those in the class of the said teacher)

    I’ve had experience of a colleague passing away before due to long illness (which was expected) but I haven’t had experience of dealing with a tragedy on a professional level like this. Any advice from HTs that have been through it before?
    bed likes this.
  2. Sundaytrekker

    Sundaytrekker Star commenter

    Yes, do you have a Critical Incident Support Team in your LA or MAT? We had support from three members of the team who came into school and talked us through suggested activities to do with announcements, letters, closing the school for the funeral, memorials and most importantly worked with members of staff and children to allow them to talk and grieve as necessary. It’s a good thing you have an inset day first. My staff said the most difficult thing was going back to their classes when the news had been shared. Children appreciated the chance to draw pictures and write poems and memories for a memory tree in a window display.

    And don’t under estimate the effect this will have on you while you front the response.
    MathMan1, Lattelady, bed and 2 others like this.
  3. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    I echo the above - get on to your LA urgently - they have ed psychs who eill help you personally and professionally.

    Speak to the staff member's next of kin to let them know if you're going to put anything in writing to parents so it isn't a shock to them.

    Try to keep school as normal as possible for the children but also factor in proper support.

    The ed psych is the key here - they have resources, assemblies etc to help educationally but will also talk through all of the practicalities for you as HT.

    You will need to speakto the next of kin regarding the funeral as well as they may not want all of the staff to go or they might be happy for this to happen - you would then need to consider closing the school if most staff want to attend.

    The best advice is to not show a knee-jerk reaction to anything and if you're not sure of the best way to handle something, get expert advice before you try to.

    Deepest sympathies.
    bed, nomad, Rott Weiler and 1 other person like this.
  4. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    The news will spread among parents and then among children. You'll need some sort of support plan in place for the children in that class in particular; and don't be surprised if the emotional impact resurfaces later. You'll also need to work out what to say to the children and what line your staff need to take, remembering that the grapevine may not be complete and that stories get exaggerated and changed. I've been down this road myself and it is difficult, but I don't think there's a specific method or routine, you just have to make practical as well as supportive decisions and to listen to people's needs and ideas. You have my sympathy.
    bed and Sundaytrekker like this.
  5. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    Adding to my last post...

    I am well aware that some will see this as cold however I am just trying to offer practical support to a HT in crisis.

    If you have a Y6, it is worth notifying the DfE because this can count as special consideration in your SATs results due to the emotional impact this will have on your staff and pupils.

    Again, I know this seems heartless but it will allow your achool a chance to be judged fairly in the midst of this tragedy.
    Stiltskin, bed, Rott Weiler and 2 others like this.
  6. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    How awful. Deepest sympathies. I'm glad you have an INSET day so that you and the staff can spend time together before you have to meet the children. Please do contact your LA; I hope they are helpful. You will be trying to take care of everyone - staff, children and families - please make sure you look after yourself.
    bed likes this.
  7. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    So very sorry to hear this. Look after yourself away from school because you're at the sharp end there. Maybe speak to someone for your own emotional support ( Samaritans would be instantly available. Sounds extreme but don't discount your own needs)
    bed and strawbs like this.
  8. bed

    bed New commenter

    What a tragedy - I’m so sorry for your loss and for your whole school’s loss

    Great advice above especially
    - getting all the help available from LA or MAT Crisis Support
    - also local bereavement services who may have specialist counsellors for children
    - checking with family about funeral attendance
    - you should be prepared to go at least as HT - family might not want too many others there apart from friends
    - keep an eye on yourself - you’ll be being very busy looking after everyone else - don’t forget yourself

    Don’t expect too much from anyone (apart from crisis support - expect a lot from them)
    Take care
  9. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Occasional commenter

    Thank you all for the advice given- I spoke with all the staff at INSET on Monday and put support into place for those colleagues affected. The class of the teacher who was killed was notified separately along with a letter sent to parents. Notification in assembly too.
    Support is in place for the pupils too! I have spoken with the family and although no definite funeral arrangements have been made yet, myself as the HT along with a couple of other colleagues will be attending. We plan to also have a memorial service in school too which the colleague’s family will be invited to.
  10. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    That all sounds great. But how are you?
    welshwales, Sundaytrekker and bed like this.
  11. Lattelady

    Lattelady New commenter

    Just to say when we had something similar, albeit for a pupil, we planted a tree in the playground and each year on the anniversary, his mum would come and sit in its' shade for an hour, watching the children. She thanked us for making him happy when he was away from home... for us it was a small thing, to her it meant the world.
    MathMan1 likes this.

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