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William Patten Primary School
Stoke Newington Church Street
London N16 0NX

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Dear parents,

I am writing to you following the very sad news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II yesterday.

Children in Years 1 – 6 will be aware who the Queen was, what she did and the importance of her role within our country and beyond. The whole school celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in the summer term with a series of lessons culminating in our very own Platinum Jubilee Pageant and picnic lunch. It was a very special day and we have the year group art celebrating each decade of the Queen’s reign on display in the top hall. All the children received a Jubilee mug and a special souvenir programme of the day for them to keep as a memento of this unique and historic occasion.

We are aware that news of the Queen’s death may be upsetting or confusing for children and will be talking with them about the changes that this news will bring. We will explain to the children that many people are going to feel sadness and grief at this news, and that they may see adults visibly upset. Loss and grief can be very hard for children to see and understand.

·         Years 1, 2 and 3 teachers will share the Powerpoint presentation ‘The Life of Queen Elizabeth II’ with their classes today

·         Years 4, 5 and 6 teachers will share the Powerpoint presentation  ‘Queen Elizabeth II 1926 – 2022’ with their classes and show them a Newsroundclip https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/news/watch_newsround today.

Both sets of slides are attached.

We will continue to support children through our established wellbeing systems and protocols, including our PHSE (Personal, Health and Social Education) curriculum, Place2be and will keep a watchful eye for any pupils showing signs of upset or distress.

If you have any concerns about your child in relation to this event, or wish to discuss the response of the school, please contact myself, Sian as our Mental Health and Wellbeing lead or Sarah from Place2be

There are a number of organisations which offer helpful guidance and support when talking to children about bereavement and grief. Please see the links below.

https://www.place2be.org.uk/about-us/news-and-blogs/2022/september/supporting-your-child-when-someone-famous-dies/

https://parentingsmart.place2be.org.uk/article/supporting-your-child-when-someone-dies

https://www.childbereavementuk.org/supporting-bereaved-children-and-young-people

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/support/bereaved-family-friends/supporting-grieving-child/talking-to-children-about-death

https://www.barnardos.org.uk/how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-grief

It can be difficult for adults too, when talking to children about news that is upsetting and or difficult. The guidance below is helpful in supporting parents to navigate these situations.

Listen to children:

·         Create a time and place for children to ask their questions. Don’t force children to talk about things until they’re ready.

·         Remember that children tend to personalise situations. For example, they may worry about the loss of their friends or relatives.

·         Help children find ways to express themselves. Some children may not be able to talk about their thoughts, feelings, or fears. They may be more comfortable drawing pictures, playing with toys, or writing stories or poems directly or indirectly related to current events.

Answer children’s questions:

·         Use words and concepts your child can understand. Make your explanation appropriate to your child’s age and level of understanding. Don’t overload a child with too much information.

·         Give children honest answers and information. Children will usually know if you’re not being honest.

·         Be prepared to repeat explanations or have several conversations. Some information may be hard to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may be your child’s way of asking for reassurance.

·         Acknowledge and support your child’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Let your child know that you think their questions and concerns are important.

·         Be consistent and reassuring, but don’t make unrealistic promises.

·         Remember that children learn from watching their parents and teachers. They are very interested in how you respond to events. They learn from listening to your conversations with other adults.

·         Let children know how you are feeling. It’s OK for them to know if you are sad about events. However, don’t burden them with your concerns.

Provide support:

·         Children who have experienced trauma or losses may show more intense reactions to tragedies or sad news. These children may need extra support and attention.

·         Watch for physical symptoms related to stress. Many children show anxiety and stress through complaints of physical aches and pains.

·         Help children communicate with others and express themselves at home.

·         Let children be children. They may not want to think or talk a lot about these events. It is alright if they’d rather play out, be with their friends or ride their bike, etc.

·         Share your own feelings and explain to children that they may feel anger, sadness, fear, and numbness too. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to express how you feel. Just talking and sharing your feelings can help them and help you.

·         Limit the time you spend watching the news. It is helpful to be informed about what is happening, but spending lots of time watching the news reports can make children feel more anxious and sad.

·         Be respectful of others feelings

·         Join with others. Participating in candlelight vigils, religious ceremonies, memorial services, or other events can be helpful. It is a way to show you care and that the community is supporting each other during a sad time.

There has been discussion that the day of the state funeral will be a bank holiday, in which case schools will be closed. I will write to update you if and when this confirmed.

With very best wishes

Karen

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