A comparative examination of schools' responses to bereavement and the associated needs of the school community in Galway, West of Ireland and Derry, Northern Ireland
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McGovern, Marguerita, & Tracey, Anne. (2010). A comparative examination of schools' responses to bereavement and the associated needs of the school community in Galway, West of Ireland and Derry, Northern Ireland. Pastoral Care in Education, 28(3), 235-252. doi: 10.1080/02643944.2010.504223
The aim and objective of this study is to examine and compare how schools in Galway, Republic of Ireland and Derry in the North of Ireland (cities located within two independent jurisdictions in Ireland) manage and respond to bereavement. To carry out a survey of schools, the ‘Loss in Schools’ questionnaire is considered the most suitable tool. The questionnaire, which contains 10 questions designed to unearth pertinent issues including the needs and concerns of schools, had previously been administered in studies in Hull. Sixty questionnaires were administered in both Galway and Derry, with a return of 38 and 35, respectively. This study illuminates important aspects of the topic. The schools in both Galway and Derry rate bereavement (and parental separation) as highly important in terms of priorities. In terms of policy, some of the respondents in both study sites report that loss is included in their school's policy documents but not formally included in the curriculum. A designated staff member (who would speak to the pupil experiencing the death of a family member or significant other) is evident in 37% of Derry schools and 23% of Galway schools. Some members of staff in both study sites have attended training in bereavement, although the courses are relatively short term. Schools request assistance from other agencies outside the formal schools arena in times of need. In Galway the psychology services are most commonly consulted, while in Derry the Western Education and Library Board Bereavement Counselling teams and Cruse Bereavement Care are identified as additional resources from which help is sought. This paper outlines recommendations on schools' training needs in the area of child bereavement and the request for support to help further develop and formalise school policies.