The Promise Scotland

Have you heard about The Promise?

We are very aware that our Care Experienced children are often exposed to multiple losses, and we wanted to highlight some very relevant documents that will support us all in thinking about how best to support them.

On 5 February 2020, the Care Review published seven reports, with ‘the promise’ narrating a vision for Scotland, built on five foundations. With cross-party support and broad commitment to #KeepThePromise, Scotland, its statutory agencies, local authorities, third sector and thousands of children and families knew that much needed to change to make sure that all Scotland’s children grow up ‘loved, safe and respected.’

As a group, we are committed to promoting the promise, integrating it in to our plan and playing our part in achieving the goals set out within plan 21-24.

For more information about The Promise and what it might mean in your setting you can access the Independent Care Review, The Promise Education Briefing and Plan 21-24 via these links.

Seasons for Growth Parent Programme – Update

Thank you to our newly trained Parent Programme Companions for letting me take their picture.

You will remember a few weeks back we advertised the opportunity to be part of our very first round of Seasons Parent Programme training to staff across Highland. We had our first cohort with us yesterday, just look at their happy faces!
We are so proud and pleased to say that we have grown from three trained parent companions to twelve! Thank you for being such a fantastic and insightful group, we are very excited to see the programme spreading and growing in Highland.

Our pilot school recently shared some feedback about the programme from Parents:

What do you think you might do differently as a result of attending the programme?

“Being able to speak to my children without worrying I said something I shouldn’t have. I feel I can support my children much better and understand their thoughts and feelings.”

What aspects of the programme did you find most beneficial?

“Everything about this programme is amazing and has given me a better understanding about everything. I can’t wait to see what the kids one is like and see the positive impact it has on them.”

On a scale to 1 – 5 the parent rated themselves as a 1; feeling not confident at all about attending the programme, by the end of the programme the parent rated themselves as a 5 stating they feel very confident. 

For more information about the Parent Programme click here.

Demystifying Death Week – blog 4

We know that children who are bereaved will be grieving for life and the loss will always be with them.  This means that children may need to look again at the details surrounding the death of an important person in their lives as they grow older. Feelings they had when young will be different several years further on as their understanding matures and the meaning of the death changes as they move through life. This is not unresolved grief but the experience of different feelings later in life, often connected to major life events such as switching classes, moving up to senior school or other significant change. 

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

People are often at a loss as to know what to say or do to help a child who has been bereaved by the death of someone important to them. Every situation is different, and children will be affected to a greater or lesser degree, dependent on the circumstances of the death and the nature of the relationship they had with the person who has died.

Most grieving children do not need a ‘bereavement expert’ they need people who care. Schools, just by carrying on with their usual day-to-day activities while being aware of the bereavement, can do a huge amount to support a grieving pupil.

Following this link will take you to the CBUK page which provides information and resources to support primary school pupils:

Following this link will take you to the CBUK page which provides information and resources to support secondary age pupils:

Thank you again to our Educational Psychologist; Isabel Shaver for her time in writing this blog post.

Demystifying Death Week – blog 3

Books, books, books

We talk about the importance of books a lot within the CLB group, at our awareness raising training and also at Seasons for Growth training. Books in the classroom, or at home, help to normalise death and dying for children and young people. Rather than using them after a death, we emphasise how important it is to have these texts freely available so that children know about death and dying, feel able to ask questions and realise that they are not the only one who has or will experience death.

I would like to share this YouTube video of Badgers Parting Gifts (you might remember this one from an earlier blog post courtesy of our Primary school pupil Lucy).

Badger’s Parting Gifts By Susan Varley ♡ Spoken Ruby Dee

Lucy referenced in her review of the book that it had made it easier for her to talk to other people about death, and that sharing at home had helped her Gran as well. Books about death and dying aren’t just for our children and young people!

For more ideas of which books you could use, recommend or purchase for your home or school libraries, please have a look at our book list.

Demystifying Death Week

Children have lots of questions about death.

Adults sometimes think that by not talking to children about death, they are protecting them. But death is very much part of ordinary life for children – it is in the books they read, the films they watch, the computer games they play.

If you would like to know more about how to talk to children about death, watch this video (produced by Good Life Good Death Good Grief).

This short leaflet provides information to help you help children understand death.

Young people who are bereaved need the support of the people around them – family, friends and their school community.

Someone may not show how they are feeling, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ‘fine’.

Often, adults and friends can be unsure of how to help, or what role they can play in providing support.

This video (also produced by Good Life Good Death Good Grief) provides some information about how to support a child or young person who is bereaved.

Below are some resources from Child Bereavement UK with information about how to support a young person who is bereaved.

A big thank you to Isabel Shaver; Educational Psychologist for taking the time to compose this blog post, and pull together such pertinent information about how to support bereaved children & young people.

Seasons for Growth Parent Programme

Are you a trained C&YP Seasons companion? Or are you a Head Teacher whose school already runs Seasons for children and young people? Would you like to be able to offer the Parent Programme too?

The parent programme is all about supporting parents to understand and support their children through change and loss.

We are delivering training to staff who are already trained as Children & Young People’s Programme Companions, who have delivered Seasons at least once and have received their accreditation. We have two dates available; Thursday 10th June and Tuesday 31st August. This is a one day training and there is a cost for materials attached. For further information about signing up and the programme please contact Jo or Isabel via the emails above in the first instance.

For information about the programme visit

To hear from our first Highland school using the Parent Programme visit

This week is #demystifyingdeath week, lets do our bit to normalise conversations around death, dying and the grief that runs alongside it.

Say hello to another team member…

I’m Aileen Mackay; head teacher of Smithton Primary and Early learning Centre and I also have a part time local authority remit working with universities and their student teacher programmes, working with first year teachers, representing Highland with the General Teaching Council for Professional Update and inducting new supply teachers in Highland.

I am honoured to be a part of the Change, Loss and Bereavement group and have made sure that all new teachers have ‘Change, Loss and Bereavement’ as part of the induction year programme under the theme of relationships and child safeguarding. It has been recorded by many teachers that this section  of their induction has proved to be invaluable whether primary or secondary teacher.

As a head teacher one of the most valuable resources we use is the Seasons for Growth Parent Programme I find that this really helps parents and carers to have confidence in speaking with and listening to their children whether around the death of a loved one, a move of house or a change in family circumstances. I have seen parents blossom after receiving the sessions and, in turn, their children more relaxed and able to learn.

Understanding change, loss and bereavement allows us to better understand a young person’s behaviour and communication with us. It’s important that we enable young people to articulate their feelings and to express their emotions. Health and well being is core to every child or young person’s education. It is our responsibility to understand as much as we can about each young person we teach regardless of their age or the subject we teach.

Is your child starting school this Autumn?

Bumps to bairns have uploaded this really useful post and video to their site today. Worth a watch if you are beginning to consider your child’s transition into Primary 1 after the summer.
Thank you bumps to bairns for letting us share this.

Will my child be ready?

After the last year, many parents and carers with children due to start school this autumn may have a worry about whether they will be ready

And wondering what they can do to help prepare

It is a natural concern, and we’ve made a short film to try and show how there is no need to be too worried

There is input from Education Scotland inspectors, as well as from experienced teachers, to explain how transition into school will go this year, what P1 classes will be like in Highland, and how you can help your child prepare

At all times, if you have concerns and can’t find the answers, your local school will be more than pleased to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch

We’re back with meet the team chapter 5!

Hi, my name is Hannah and I look after the Bereavement Team at Highland Hospice. Our Crocus Group staff and volunteers are part of the bereavement team, and they support children and young people in Highland who feel they need a bit of extra help to manage after someone important to them has died.  

I love my job because it is important to me to make sure that young people who are grieving are listened to and get the attention and help that they need.  

When I’m not working I like to go out on my paddle board, play board games and watch too many shows on Netflix. Sometimes I need my friends to tell me to stop working and start relaxing!  

I’ve chosen some resources that Crocus Group give to many children and young people after someone has died: 

For younger children, the ‘Little Book of Loss’ is a great reminder of important messages to tell ourselves on the harder days, such as “Whatever has happened, it’s not your fault.” It comes with an information leaflet for the grownups. 

For slightly older children, the ‘Pocketful of Plasters’ is one of the most popular resources and reminds us that sometimes we need first aid for our feelings, not just our bodies.  

For teenagers, the book ‘Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers’ contains some great advice and thoughts and can bring a lot of reassurance and comfort. I wish the cover was better! One good quote from it is: 

“You can’t heal what you don’t feel.  

If there is pain, it’s because of a wound you can’t see.  

You don’t help yourself by running away from your emotions and pretending that nothing has happened. 

Accept and allow yourself to experience your hurt.  

Try not to say: “I shouldn’t feel the way I do”. 

Your feelings are natural and okay, even though they may be scary and painful”.  

Meet our team – chapter 4

Image result for national autistic society

Hi I’m Alison and I work for the National Autistic Society Scotland. I am an Information Officer for Highland which means I can help parents and carers (and the professionals who support them) with information about autism before and after diagnosis. It might be someone looking some specific advice or just a general chat, if I can’t help myself I’ll always try and signpost on to other services who can help.

Change of any kind can be very hard for autistic children and young people but it can be helped by using visual supports and by things such as social stories. We’ve got lots of great information on our NAS website, for example:

Part of my job is looking after our wonderful library at the Pines. I am building up our collection of bereavement resources as I think this is such an important issue to support. The library is not open due to Covid but you can search the library to give you examples of books you might try:

Often children’s books are available on YouTube being read as stories which is a great (and free!) way of accessing them.

I can suggest lots of other resources so do get in touch if I can help.

My favourite resource? Wow there are so many I’ll have to choose two:

Just get in touch if I can help: