'The one thing guaranteed in life and yet they won't teach you about it': The case for mandatory grief education in UK schools

Lesel D Dawson, Rachel E Hare, Lucy E Selman, Tracey Boseley, Alison Penny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


Nearly all British children are bereaved of someone close to them by the time they turn 16 and, with the Covid-19 pandemic and world humanitarian crises across the news and social media, they are being exposed to more anxiety about death than ever before. Learners need to be taught about grief and death to prepare them to manage bereavement and support others. As it stands, although teaching resources exist and some curriculum guidance documents mention loss or death, there is no statutory requirement for schools anywhere in the UK to cover grief or bereavement and many pupils have no classes about these difficult topics.

This article consolidates the case for grief education in schools. We discuss six key questions to examine evidence that children benefit from talking about grief, death and loss; the current provision for grief education in UK schools; the obstacles to teaching these topics and ways to overcome them; and the potential further implications of a policy change. Following the lead of child bereavement charities, research and new national reports on UK bereavement support, we demonstrate the need for mandatory grief education in all four countries of the UK and offer evidence-based recommendations for its implementation.

The article is published alongside a supplementary file which which lists 50+ teaching plans, teacher training programmes and other school bereavement resources which could support mandatory grief education, and also overviews the curriculum of each UK country.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Brigstow Institute, University of Bristol, and the University of Bristol Faculty of Arts PGR Summer Internship Scheme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Cruse Bereavement Care. All rights reserved.


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