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How Boarding Schools Deal With Death

(50 Posts)
looking4clues Tue 24-Oct-17 15:08:18

I have a niece at a UK boarding school where over the past two years two girls have died in their home countries. One unexpected and one from a long term illness. I was disappointed that the school did not think to send someone to attend the funerals as a representative of the school community they are always banging on about. I am interested to learn if this is typical of British boarding schools.

Fekko Tue 24-Oct-17 15:11:32

Send a member of staff abroad? If it was local I'm sure someone would attend a funeral. Maybe they sent flowers or a card?

Multidimensionalbeing Tue 24-Oct-17 15:16:59

You wanted them to pay for a trip to another country for a member of staff to attend? I think it's odd you'd expect that.

SpikeStoker Tue 24-Oct-17 15:21:07

I absolutely wouldn’t expect a school to send a member of staff to another country to attend d a funeral. I would expect the school to communicate with the parents and to provide pastoral care and counselling for friends and classmates at the school. Also to hold some sort of memorial. I would also expect them to waive the terms fees in lieu of notice. But, no, not send someone to a funeral a long way away.

Fekko Tue 24-Oct-17 15:21:53

A boy was killed at DSs school a couple of years ago and the school closed early on the day of the funeral and s lot of the staff and families went (the family was asked if that was what they wanted). They set up a scholarship at the school and the school put a bench in the school garden in his name.

The parents were very close to the school and appreciated all the contact from staff and families. Not all parents might though. One mum lost her 2 babies and the school families were asked to respect the families privacy and to not ask them about it/mention it/pass on sympathies. Ditto the family of the mum who died suddenly.

Dumbledore345 Tue 24-Oct-17 15:23:41

How very sad.

I think the norm would be to hold a memorial service at the school in which the whole school community could participate.

I am not sure whether a grieving family would necessarily want a representative from the school at the service in the home country. The school might not know whether the staff member would be welcome and might not wish to intrude. I think much would depend on the local cultural tradition. And in some countries the funeral would take place very soon after the death so it would be difficult to co-ordinate flights etc.

Fekko Tue 24-Oct-17 15:25:10

I hope the other children are supported, being away from their families.

looking4clues Thu 26-Oct-17 17:57:12

It is a Catholic school and I would be very surprised if any Catholic family did not welcome a mourner sent to represent the school. And you can always ask before sending someone. So I did expect the school to pay to send someone. We are looking at maybe £1,500 which set against the annual operating costs of the school is insignificant.

WinnieTheW0rm Thu 26-Oct-17 18:00:32

I would expect the school to hold a memorial service at the school and to provide pastoral support to pupils.

i would not expect either clammates or staff to travel out from U.K.

Fekko Thu 26-Oct-17 18:03:55

Parents would complain if a teacher was sent away for a few days attending a funeral abroad. It's just not reasonable to expect the school to pay £1.5k to do this.

WitchesHatRim Thu 26-Oct-17 18:06:11

I certainly wouldn't expect a school to send a representative abroad.

Gazelda Thu 26-Oct-17 18:17:41

I disagree OP. There are more appropriate ways to mark the child’s death, as have been suggested by other posters.

Crispsheets Thu 26-Oct-17 18:19:15

How bizarre

Fekko Thu 26-Oct-17 18:20:50

You've actually reminded me that it's close to the anniversary of the death of one of DSs classmates. I should take some flowers down to where he was killed - it's such a lonely spot and I pass it often in the car.

unfortunateevents Thu 26-Oct-17 19:48:15

OP, are you British? I am not and find that there are marked differences in the way that the British treat death and funerals to the way that I was brought up. From my upbringing, I might expect that someone from the school would attend the funeral but as an adult, I know that this is just not something which would be considered in the UK and might actually be seen as inappropriate (Catholic or not - I am Catholic myself).

Fekko Thu 26-Oct-17 20:11:23

theres attending if it's local - but a trip costing £1500 isn't exactly nearby is it?

CamperVamp Fri 27-Oct-17 00:33:17

How do you know whether or not your neice’s school sent someone to attend a funeral?

happygardening Fri 27-Oct-17 07:58:49

I would hope that the school would have sent someone, or at the very least offered to send someone it’s simply the right thing to do and I’m sure many parents want it; the acknowledgement that life can be f**king shit and take from us the most important thing in our lives. I too agree that the flight, hotel costs should be absorbed by the school. I would also like to think that the school held its own memorial service, especially as the funeral was abroad, this can provide some help to both parents staff and pupils. Having worked in the independent boarding sector I know that many schools also adopt a particular charity related in some way to the pupils who died and often raise considerable sums of money again it helps both the parents and pupils.
A boy died at DS2’s school, the funeral was held in the cathedral all were invited, the mum kept in contact with the boys in her sons year/house and met up with them on a couple of occasions, she’s also arranged and still arranges events at the school raising funds for a charity that she’s set up. It’s obvious these things really matter to her I sure they help in a small way.
Having said this sadly I’m not surprised they didn’t attend the funeral. unfortunateevents maybe right perhaps it’s a cultural British thing. I’m not sure UK boarding schools (and I guess this applies to day schools as well) really know how to handle death of their pupils or know how to support the parents of the child who died, maybe not just because we’re British but because as parents, (which most boarding staff are) we know how terrible this must be and feel so helpless in this situation. I also think as adults we can totally underestimate the effects on teenagers of the death of a friend; I know two women in their 70’s and 80’s whose good friend died when they were teenagers both cried when talking about it.
My condolences to your family at this terrible time.

happygardening Fri 27-Oct-17 08:03:54

Sorry I misread the children who died were not part your family.

looking4clues Fri 27-Oct-17 08:53:46

I am British and my parents are Irish Catholic. I learnt many valuable things from them including the basic rule that if someone you know is in hospital or house bound, you visit; if someone you know dies, you attend the funeral. You don't ask, you just go. An understanding that if someone dies in your community, everyone in that community connected with the deceased is represented at the funeral. I am sure some parents would complain about the cost but there are always some parents who complain about anything if it doesn't directly benefit their son/daughter. But of course the school should ask if sending someone would be OK. If it was me the question would be "We're sending Ms/Mr Smith to represent the school community would that be OK with the family?"

AlexanderHamilton Fri 27-Oct-17 09:39:38

Dh works in a boarding school. I would not expect them to send a member of staff abroad for a funeral. The staff are. Ended at schoolto support the students there & many have young families or elderly relatives etc themselves so wouldn't be able to just go on an unexpected trip abroad. Ratios are also very strict for boarding staff so they wouldn't be able to be spared.

happygardening Fri 27-Oct-17 09:44:52

I’m sorry I just don’t buy into the staff ratios thing. At every boarding school I’ve worked at or been involved with staff including HM’s have gone on trips away either with or without pupils during term time. looking as you so eloquently put it it’s “basic rules” someone you know dies especially a child a pupil at your school part of your community you attend their funeral end of.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 27-Oct-17 09:59:16

Planned trips during term time with cover arranged & teachers having advance notice to sort family commitments also less pupils in school is totally different.

They nearly had to close the boarding house st dh's school the other week due to staff sickness.

Caulk Fri 27-Oct-17 10:02:36

Even independent schools have tight budgets. I would be surprised if many had a spare £1500 to send a member of staff away for a few days for this sort of thing. Memorial at school, yes but not sending a member of staff.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 27-Oct-17 10:06:57

Incredibly tight budgets.

Also most teachers wouldn't even be entitled to a day to travel to a non immediate family or friend funeral

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