A TEACHER has encouraged schools to take part in an ‘important’ project to educate children about death.

Sobell House Hospice is recruiting Oxfordshire primary schools to open up sensitive discussions about death, to tackle the tight-lipped culture around the topic.

The scheme was unveiled in the Oxford Mail last week and now Katie Hannaford, who helped to design lesson plans for the project, has explained why it is paramount to broach the subject.

Mrs Hannaford, a Year 4 teacher at St John’s Primary School in Wallingford, said: “It is very difficult and I am aware that some parents and teachers may not think it is the right thing to do or feel comfortable talking about it.

“It is important to stress that the conversations do not have to be upsetting or morbid.

“They can be handled in a way that allows children to explore this area in a supported environment.”

Mum-of-two Mrs Hannaford was bereaved when her dad died at Sobell House, aged 50.

The 38-year-old, who was 22 at the time, said: “It was a very difficult time for our family, but Sobell House made it so much more bearable. The staff there were incredible and helped us in so many ways.

“We never thought we’d need a facility like Sobell - not at that point in our lives, certainly.

“It is unimaginable to think of it not being there.”

Her help with the two-week teaching scheme, which will run in April, was another way of giving back to the hospice.

Mrs Hannaford, who lives in Wallingford, said: “Even after my dad died, there were people who didn’t know what to say.

“Some people didn’t say anything at all and that made things quite tough.

“It is something everyone is going to have to go through, in varying degrees at varying times in their lives, but we often don’t know what to say or do when it does.”

Lessons are designed for children in Years 2-5 (aged six-10), and include stories, art and poetry.

The campaign supports a national movement called Dying Matters, which aims to change attitudes towards death.

Any teachers interested in taking part can request an information pack by calling 01865 225860.