Divorce proceedings can be a traumatic and highly emotional experience for the two parties involved.
When it comes to the entire cycle of divorce, the couple will have to consider many issues that affect them, but it is also a life-changing event that impacts significantly on their other family members, in particular, their children.
With this in mind, Cordell & Cordell looks to the education system to discover how schools and key members of staff are working to support their pupils through the emotionally turbulent time when their parents are going through divorce proceedings.
When a teacher is told about a divorce, key staff are informed so that they can maximise their support to that child. A divorce can be communicated to a school in a number of ways
It can either be carried out informally, for example if a child discusses the situation with their teacher. Alternatively, if the parent(s) would prefer to get involved, they can inform the head teacher by arranging a visit to the school to discuss any circumstances they wish in person.
To support a child through divorce, close monitoring is important. A school achieves this by making all relevant staff aware of the situation to ensure they maximise support.
This is closely aligned with monitoring the child’s behaviour, with teachers and other staff looking out for key behavioural or emotional responses that may indicate they could be struggling with the situation. For example, staff members will be looking for any signs of the child becoming withdrawn or other behavioural red flags that could indicate the child is being particularly affected by the divorce.
The child will be made aware that their class teacher and others are there for support. In some schools, there may also be access to additional support from specialist teaching assistants called emotional literacy support assistants (ELSAs). With parental permission, children could access these ELSAs – a team of specialist teaching assistants who have undergone additional training from educational psychologists to deliver support to children at times of emotional distress, such as coping with a divorce.
As mentioned above, having an awareness of a child’s normal and unusual behavioural traits is crucial to assisting them through the ordeal of a divorce.
The support network within the school will keep a constant lookout for common behavioural indicators and offer the relevant support as and when they arise. These can include the child showing signs of being:
- Anxious, for example, showing unusual worry at the end of the school day over who will be collecting them or the changing of routines
The school has a duty of care and responsibility to keep both of the parents informed about their child’s development.
A school will adapt their communication in a number of ways, which include:
- Ensuring equal access to reports
- Making sure newsletters are sent to both parents
- Sending school photographs to both parents
- Sending separate invitations to parents’ eveningsA school regards maintaining a strong relationship with each parent as critical because it benefits the child and ensures the involvement of both of them at all times, regardless of the personal situation.
Safeguarding the Child
Protecting, supporting and safeguarding are of paramount importance to a school when a child is experiencing difficult situations at home, such as a divorce.
The education system is designed to provide full support to a child during difficult times, and therefore has safeguarding procedures in place, so the child knows who they can confide in and talk to at school, as well as what support is available to assist them through the situation.
If you have a question about divorce or need a family law solicitor, contact Cordell & Cordell today for an initial consultation.