A divorce is a traumatic and highly emotional experience for the two parties involved. There is much to think about for the couple going through divorce proceedings.
But when it comes to children who are also on the journey through divorce with their parents, it is imperative that they have a solid and dependable support network to help at this difficult time, and this includes a strong network at their school.
With this in mind, we look at the role of the educational system in supporting children during divorce proceedings.
Informing the Right People
A key role that teachers have once they are informed that a divorce is taking place (which is done either informally by telling the class teacher or by arranging a visit to the head teacher) is telling the right staff so they can maximise support to that child.
Support means closely monitoring the child involved, and making all teaching staff aware of the situation helps with this. Children are monitored by staff who know what is going on and can look closely for signs such as behavioural changes, emotional responses and becoming withdrawn.
Whilst the child will be made aware that the class teacher is there for support, optional additional support from an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) with parental permission is available in many schools.
An ELSA network is made up of specialist teaching assistants who have had additional training from educational psychologists to offer support to children at times of emotional distress, like a divorce.
Awareness of Behavioural Traits
Awareness of the behavioural traits of the child is critical when it comes to support from school staff.
The support network within the school will constantly look out for common behavioural traits and offer support when they arise. These can include:
• Anxious at the end of the school day about who will be picking them up
• Anxious about routines changing and how they will get homework done
It is the school’s responsibly to keep both parents informed of their child’s development regardless of the fact that they are divorcing.
The school can achieve this by ensuring that both parents have equal access to reports and newsletters and that school photographs are emailed to both parents.
Separate invitations to parents’ evenings are also sent to each parent. Maintaining good relationships with each parent is regarded as a crucial responsibility by the school as it benefits the child.
Safeguarding the needs of the child is of paramount importance during difficult times at home, such as a divorce.
The entire educational system works best if safeguarding procedures are strong and children are fully aware of who they can talk to and, more importantly, what support there is to help them through a troublesome situation.
This article was written by Cordell & Cordell, a London- and US-based law firm that specialises in the fair legal representation of men in family law and divorce disputes.