Coping with the death of a teacher

The death of a member of staff affects everyone at a school. Here’s some ideas to help students and colleagues cope.

The death of a teacher, or any member of staff, affects everyone at a school – the students and all the people who work there.

Here’s some ideas of how to approach talking to colleagues and students about the death and responses to expect.

Talking to colleagues

If you’re the first school staff member to be informed that a colleague has died, tell other staff immediately. 

A staff meeting may need to be called as soon as possible. Skeletal staff might need to supervise lessons and break times.

Arrange for the school staff to meet again at the end of the day. It’s important that they’re able to share their emotions. It’s a good idea to also discuss ways to support each other, as well as the students.

Remember that other staff members may be grieving, and they may need support and/or time off to mourn.

Talking to students

As soon as all of the school staff have been informed of the death, call a school assembly.

  • Explain to the students what has happened
  • Allow them to ask questions
  • Answer all questions honestly. But, only give out details that the family of the person who has died have consented to.

After the assembly, we recommend the following:

  • Some students might want to say something about the person who has died, or pay tribute. Allow them to do this. 
  • Encourage students to talk about their feelings and share memories of the staff member who has died.  
  • Reassure all students that they can talk to someone about how they’re feeling, and that they’re supported.
  • Allow students to take time from their lessons or normal school day to talk about their feelings and share their memories.
  • There may be some students who got on really well with the staff member who died. It’s important to keep an eye on these students for any signs of distress, fear or unease. 
  • There might also be some students who have been particularly affected by news of the death. Talk to their families, as they might need to be supported at home.

If the member of staff who died taught a particular class

We recommend that the head teacher or another teacher familiar to the students, attends the class with the new teacher.

Support the teacher who takes over the school role of the person who has died.


The school staff and students may wish to hold a memorial service, or open a book of remembrance. If possible, it’s best if as many people as possible take part. There are a number of ways to remember someone who has died. Discover more ways to pay tribute to someone who’s died.

Support for bereaved students

We have a range of services available for children and teenagers.