School Funding for Children Who Lose a Parent Could Improve Outcomes
Losing a parent is a traumatic experience that can have a significant impact on a child's wellbeing
The Pupil Premium Grant (PPG) is a government initiative in the UK that provides additional funding to schools to help disadvantaged pupils reach their full potential. The grant is awarded to schools based on the number of pupils whose families are experiencing financial hardship, they are eligible for free school meals, their parents are in the Forces, or they are Children Looked After.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to extend the eligibility of PPG to include children who have lost a parent. This is something that we as an organisation would recommend.
Losing a parent is a traumatic experience that can have a significant impact on a child's wellbeing, mental health, and academic performance. The remaining parent may also be taking on extra work to make up for a short-fall in earnings, potentially reducing the amount of time the child is with them.
In a review published in 2022 by Cruse journal, Bereavement, researchers Atle Dyregrov, Martin Lytje and Sophie Rex Christensen looked at a wide range of research into children’s experiences and attainment at school after a parent dies. They looked at the evidence for how being bereaved affects well-being and relationships in class, and how it affects grades, exam results and the level of education reached.
The authors found confirmation of the negative impact of losing a parent on both grades and the level of education they completed. In particular, children from homes with low socio-economic resources underperform academically, and this impact is stronger on girls.
Deaths due to external factors, such as suicide or accidents are particularly associated with reduced completion of education.
PPG can provide much-needed support to children who have lost a parent. By directing funds towards specific interventions, schools can help to mitigate the impact of bereavement on these children and ensure that they have the best possible chance of succeeding in their education.
Here are some ways in which the PPG can be used to support children who have lost a parent:
Access to counseling and therapy
Children who have experienced bereavement often need support to process their feelings and emotions. By using the PPG to fund counseling and therapy services, schools can help these children to work through their grief and develop healthy coping strategies.
Specialised bereavement training for teachers and support staff
Teachers and support staff who work with children who have lost a parent need specialised training to understand the unique challenges that these children face. By using the PPG to fund training programmes, schools can ensure their staff are equipped to provide the best possible support to bereaved pupils.
Access to extracurricular activities
Participating in extracurricular activities can help to build a child's confidence, social skills, and resilience. By using the PPG to fund extra-curricular activities such as sports clubs, music lessons, or drama groups, schools can provide opportunities for children who have experienced bereavement to develop new skills and interests and form positive relationships with their peers.
One-to-one support from a mentor
Some children who have lost a parent may benefit from one-to-one support from a mentor. By using the PPG to fund a dedicated mentor for these children, schools can provide them with a consistent source of support and guidance as they navigate the challenges of growing up without a parent.
Pupil Premium could be a valuable resource for supporting children who have lost a parent. By directing funds towards specific interventions, schools can help these children to overcome the challenges of bereavement and reach their full potential in their education and beyond.
It is important that the eligibility of the PPG is extended to include these children so that they can receive the support they need to thrive.