Schools' support for pupils dealing with aftermath of Manchester Arena bomb

Dr Bernadka Dubicka
Dr Bernadka Dubicka

Pupils from across the Fylde coast who were at the Manchester Arena on Monday night have been offered help and support by their schools.

They include one youngster at Mereside Primary School, who was said to have been ‘traumatised’ by the attack.

Fylde Coast Academy Trust is responsible for a number of schools across the resort, including Aspire Academy, Montgomery High School and Unity Academy.

The trust said a small number of pupils were affected – either through being at the concert or by knowing somebody who was.

Community lead John Topping said pastoral care is on offer to all pupils and their families, and said schools are better placed now more than ever to look after youngsters’ well-being and mental health.

“Over the years in our high schools, we have developed very powerful systems of qualified and very able staff, who can effectively deal with all manner of issues that may arise in pupils’ lives,” he said.

Support was also being given at St George’s High School.

Headteacher Graham Warnock: “We have our critical incident plans and our Chaplain available in case of any incident.

“We have been asking pupils and finding out who was there or been affected.

“We are in a state of awareness and concern for the children who even if not there will know of someone and be in need of support and prayers.”

Lytham St Annes High School confirmed some of its pupils had been at the arena on Monday.

All have been offered ongoing support from the school.

Headteacher Philip Wood said: “We had four of our students who attended the concert.

“All are safe, unharmed and in school. There has been contact between parents and pastoral staff and I have spoken to all the parents too.

“We have offered all counselling support if it is needed but at the moment the students are coping in school.

“They have ‘time out’ cards to use if they need to go to talk to someone in school but the school and parents agree that normal routines and the opportunity to talk about what they have seen and heard is the best thing for them.

“We are keeping a close eye on how they cope and that, plus regular contact with parents, means we shall be able to respond if more support is needed.”

Hodgson Academy in Poulton said pupils had joined together to pay their respects.

Head Derek Yarwood said: “Hodgson had a period of silent reflection during form time and in assembly yesterday.

“We also gave specific support to the students who attended or were affected by the events.”

At Baines High School a minute’s silence will be held tomorrow

A spokesman said: “Baines have offered individual support which can be accessed at any time throughout the day to a number of pupils who attended the event or have been affected.

“We have a minute silence planned for Friday at 2.49pm.”

Fleetwood High School also confirmed a ‘small number’ of pupils who had been at the Manchester Arena on Monday evening were receiving support from the school’s pastoral team.

Several schools are also providing support for parents frollowing Monday’s tragedy.

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, a child psychiatrist with Lancashire Care, which provides mental health services across the county, urged parents to take care when talking to their children about what they experienced when suicide bomber Salman Abedi, known to police, detonated his improvised nail bomb in the arena’s foyer.

She said: “It is normal to feel upset after Monday night’s tragic attack. Such terrible events instil fear and sadness within all of us. We would not advise hiding your child from what may be on the news or social media.

“They will inevitably learn about it from their friends, so it’s best to be honest with them about what has happened.

“While taking into consideration the age and sensitivity of your child, let them lead the conversation.

“Respond to their questions or concerns, and help them to understand that although what has happened is awful, these events are extremely rare.

“Do not try to force conversations with your child about this, but be there for them should they wish to talk.

“Most children and young people will not show any long-term effects from these events.However, a small proportion, particularly those who have been more directly affected, may show symptoms of stress and trauma.

“For example, they may have problems sleeping, concentrating or may be more anxious. If parents are worried about persistent signs of stress and trauma in their children, they should contact their GP.”