In 2019, as part of our commitment to our local community, we decided it was time we got more involved and share our expertise to benefit local businesses and charities. We invited charities to our offices in Gloucester to deliver presentations to staff, to ascertain which charity resonated with our staff the most.

Head of Corporate & Community Engagement at Winston’s Wish, Paul Moore, arrived at the Learning Nexus office and delivered an extremely emotive and informative presentation about the struggles of child bereavement, and where they need support to further their activities.

Immediately after this presentation, our staff, some of which are parents or people that have been affected by child bereavement, believed not only was it the right cause to support, but that we could add a lot of value, in terms of our expertise.

Who are Winston’s Wish?

Winston’s Wish were founded in 1992 as the UK’s first childhood bereavement charity. Operating from their head-office in Cheltenham, Winston’s Wish exists to “give hope to grieving children” with a mission to listen when a child is grieving, to act when a child needs their help and to know what to say when it is time to talk.

Through the provision of a Freephone National Helpline, a suite of resources and publications and face-to-face support, the charity supports children through one of the most devastating losses they will ever face.  They are determined to achieve their vision of “A society in which every child can get the help they need when someone close to them dies” because they know that with the right support at the right time, delivered in the right way, grieving children can go on to lead full and flourishing lives.

Building a Relationship

The relationship between WW and Learning Nexus started with “light-touches” so both sides could learn more about each other. We met over a number of weeks to understand where we could best support them, and for the charity to learn more about what we could offer.

WW had previously released an online training resource available through a private educational learning platform. The challenge this presented was that this prohibited a number of teachers and schools from accessing the training as this was not freely available. WW had the challenge of producing this content in a way that would be accessible to all who needed it but didn’t have the budget to create something bespoke that could sit on their own website.

That is where Learning Nexus truly added value.

Meeting the Need

In order to support WW and address this key strategic challenge that would enable them to expand their reach, Learning Nexus offered to transform their existing content into on-demand eLearning courses which could be hosted on their own website, and therefore be accessed by anyone at any time.

This also presented an additional benefit to the charity as they could place the content behind a data wall therefore capturing the contact information of the teachers and schools who participated in their training to allow for future follow-up with the right GDPR permissions in place.

The Project

Project Scoping

The first stage of our development process was focussed on project scoping; who is the audience?, what topics need to be discussed?, how long will it be? and what will the general flow be?

Working in collaboration with WW, we established that the courses would be aimed towards teachers at Primary & Secondary schools, but needed to be “soft” enough for other industries and children to view also.

Upon completion of our project scoping, WW wanted to proceed with the project and begin looking at a more comprehensive lesson plan.

Lesson Planning

As we were transforming an existing “lesson” into a new format, WW were able to supply us with the core learning of the lesson. We adapted the content to suit not only an eLearning format, but also modern learning behaviours e.g. shorter = better.

Instead of the content working as a “static” presentation, where learners sat for an hour listening to the content, and possibly getting engaged once or twice with the content, we decided to make the course much more interactive.

Our team got to work and provided a lesson plan to WW that was almost immediately approved.

Design Routes

Once the general premise of the course had been signed off, we knew exactly what content needed to be communicated, but needed to work out how the course would look and feel.

After seeing the Learning Nexus eBytes, WW decided they wanted characters that were similar as they are free of gender, age, religion and ethnicity, and can therefore resonate with almost all learners.

The courses aimed at Primary Schools would feature a collection of monsters, who all display the emotions of young children who are bereaved. The courses aimed at Secondary Schools were slightly adapted, removing the monsters and replacing them with icon-based imagery for the slightly more mature audience.

Both design routes were accepted by WW. The monsters themselves have even been used elsewhere across the charity, creating a child-friendly library of resources that could be used across the rest of their school programmes.

The Courses

The project culminated in the creation of four eLearning courses, two for the Primary Schools and the other two for Secondary Schools. The first course for both Primary & Secondary schools was an introduction to childhood bereavement:

  • What is childhood bereavement?
  • How does grief affect a child?
  • Dealing with a bereavement in school

The second set of courses were geared towards what the learner can actually do to help a child who has been bereaved:

  • The importance of communication
  • Planning and preparation
  • When to seek further support
  • Help, support and self-care

The courses themselves contain an array of engagement features. For example, they all contain animations which could actually be used as a standalone video on Youtube. The content is extremely simple to digest and understand, with a flow that builds on the learners knowledge, rather than throwing them in at the deep-end.

These courses are not only available on-demand, but they are available to anyone free of charge. With the courses being free and easily accessible, it has seen WW deliver vital knowledge to huge numbers of people in a very short period of time.

The Results

Within four weeks of launching on the 7th May 2020 via their website, WW have seen more than 10,000 teachers take the courses. Those numbers sound impressive before we put them into context.

With an average UK classroom size of 27 pupils, the courses have the potential to reach over 270,000 children. This children can now benefit from the support of a teacher who has the basic skills and knowledge to know how to support a grieving child in their classroom and where to turn to for further help should they need it.

All of that in just a matter of weeks!

The course was understandable, vocabulary was clear and just the right amount of content. Really pleased that I completed this course

What Does the Future Look Like?

After the results we have just mentioned, WW were extremely keen to continue the relationship and again, further their ability to provide educational resources to teachers and children.

One project that is already underway is a short video for children between the ages of 7-13. The video will talk them through the common feelings of being bereaved and normalise their emotions. It will help children to understand emotions such as sadness and anger but also act as a reminder that it is OK to smile and laugh too. The video will educate children on simple coping mechanisms to ensure that they can identify any difficult emotions and manage these in the best way possible.

Winston’s Wish staff are all full of ideas and there will hopefully be many more projects ahead with one clear goal – TO GIVE HOPE TO GRIEVING CHILDREN!