A sudden upset

A bereaved pupil is behaving well, attendance at school is good and they are working hard. During a spelling test, the pupil suddenly becomes distressed and cannot continue.


  • Some bereaved pupils strive to behave ‘perfectly’ and to perform exceptionally well at school. They fear letting people down and set unachievable goals.
  • Bereaved pupils may not be able to study at home due to the upheaval of bereavement. They may need some help to complete their work in school hours.
  • Seemingly innocuous activities within the classroom may have caused a memory to surface when it was not expected.

What might help:

  • Allow them some time to grieve, offer reassurance and then have a conversation with the pupil to find out more about the upset, and whether they need help to manage their grief.
  • Check whether there was a specific trigger and if anything needs to be adapted as a result.
  • Inform other relevant members of staff.
  • Offer to help them to complete the spelling test at another time.
  • Follow up later to see how they are managing their grief.