“Every little thing counts in a crisis.”
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“Every little thing counts in a crisis.” Jawaharlal Nehru. Dealing with the sudden death of a student – A Case Study James Heale, Deputy Headteacher , Sandringham School . HERTFORDSHIRE HEADTEACHERS’ PARTNERSHIP CONFERENCE Safeguarding and Schools Tuesday 15 th June 2010.

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Dealing with the sudden death of a student – A Case StudyJames Heale, Deputy Headteacher, Sandringham School

HERTFORDSHIRE HEADTEACHERS’ PARTNERSHIP CONFERENCE

Safeguarding and Schools

Tuesday 15th June 2010


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The aim of this seminar is to: 

  • Develop an understanding of how your school might deal with the sudden death of a student(s), the immediate aftermath and the longer term effects

    By the end of this seminar Headteachers will be able to:

  • Reflect on current practice in their school

  • Identify key staff and external agency links that they can call upon in a ‘crisis situation’

  • A greater understanding of the help that is out there when dealing with the sudden death of a student

  • Take away examples of letters to parents, communications with staff and the media


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The seminar will include:

  • A case study from Sandringham School and shared experiences

  • A practical ‘hands-on’ approach to help you reflect on how you and your staff would react in such a situation

  • An opportunity to draw up an ‘action plan’ to prepare for the unthinkable

  • The chance to learn from a school about what went well and lessons learnt

  • An opportunity to ask questions


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  • Case study

  • What would you do?

  • What did we do?

  • Questions


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Our experience

Tues 28th April 2009 – 2.45pm

  • Call put through to the Deputy Headteacher. Notified by the police of critical incident involving a Yr 10 student

  • Headteacher out of school


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Next steps

  • Immediate response

  • Next 12 hrs

  • Next 24hrs


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Our experience

Wednesday 29th April 2009

  • Life support turned off


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Our experience

Thurs 30th April – 9am

  • Headteacher notified by police of a second critical incident involving a Year 10 girl


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Next steps

  • Immediate response

  • Next 12 hrs

  • Next 24hrs

  • The 7 days


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What went well?

  • Regular communication

    • Staff, students, parents, the press, local schools

  • Honesty

  • One source of information

  • Accept help

    • MAPS, External agencies, community, Police

  • Clear points of focus

  • Crisis HQ

  • County Press office


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Lessons learned

  • Be prepared for the school to be the focus /hub

  • Contact the parents of the bereaved early

  • Check and double check information

  • More bodies in the student area on day 1

  • Tighter control over where students are


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What are we now doing differently?

  • Strategy meetings

  • Vulnerable students’ log

  • Clear bereavement procedures

  • Identified person responsible for bereavement work