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    Bereavement in the Primary Classroom: The Perspectives of Widowed Parents

    Martin-Hodgins, Nicola (2014) Bereavement in the Primary Classroom: The Perspectives of Widowed Parents. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This research explores the experiences of young widow and widower parents as they support their children through the primary school system in Ireland. It provides candid parental insights into how schools currently respond to, address and continue to educate children who are grieving the death of a parent. There is a paucity of empirically based research exploring widowed parent observations on the efficacy with which the needs of parentally bereaved children are facilitated at schools in Ireland. An estimated 4,384 primary school children experienced the death of a parent in 2011. An ecologically based conceptual framework was constructed to assess the needs of bereaved children in primary education. This exploration is supported by a four-part framework based on theories of resilience, the use of psychology theory in Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), the caring relationship in teaching and the link between schooling and social and emotional well-being (SEWB). A qualitative research design was selected to foster rapport and encourage the first-hand narratives of the widowed parent encounters. In this research two auxiliary sources – teacher and pupil voices – are documented to contextualise school ethos and ascertain the extent of curricular interventions for bereaved children in primary education. Research findings from qualitative interviews with widowed parents reveal valuable insights into how pupils feel in the classroom as they cope with their loss and bereavement. They give a keen insight into the complex emotions facing pupils, and the often limited response of schools to these pupils’ needs. The findings indicate the need to foster life skills and transformational coping through the integration of resilience-orientated or strength-based curricular provisions in primary classrooms. Challenges linked to the professional roles of teachers, assessment of high-risk situations, and the rise of therapeutic interventions in education were also identified. In response to these challenges, this research proposes the introduction of a loss, bereavement and change module in SPHE, including useful classroom strategies and approaches. Recommendations for schools are also advanced. These ideas aim to strengthen practitioner knowledge so that future pupils who encounter the death of a parent are better equipped to recognise, tackle and address grief as it unfolds in the evolving social world of the primary classroom.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Bereavement; Primary Classroom; Perspectives; Widowed Parents;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Education
    Item ID: 7788
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2017 15:16
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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