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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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Emotionally Based School Avoidance

Back to school - but for some children and young people, it’s not that easy. For some, the New Year signals a fresh start and new challenges. Schools are welcoming students back despite the continuing COVID19 disruption; doing their best to safely teach, support and care for their students. But for other students taking that step back into the classroom will be hugely overwhelming. So much so that despite their very best efforts they simply won’t make it back the first week...or the week after.
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Why some children and young people will find it impossible to make it into school isn’t straightforward. The figures alone suggest the issue is complicated. The pandemic hasn’t helped but the problem is a long-standing one. It’s a problem for those children and young people who are missing out on education but it’s also a problem that schools, Local Authorities and the DFE have to grapple with.

School refusal is a loaded term. It has been and in many cases still, is the term used to describe when a young person is unable to attend school without what is considered a legitimate reason. The term itself sums up part of the problem. It locates the willingness to attend or not attend in the gift of the child or young person. We are now starting to understand this usually isn’t the case.

For anyone working in a school probably the best way to help and support those children and young people struggling to attend is to better understand what is known about this complex set of circumstances.
Emotionally based school avoidance is the term now favoured to better describe the interplay between school, student, family and emotions. This webinar hosted by the research project Excluded Lives at the University of Oxford is a good place to start.

You can find more information, practical suggestions and links to more research in our EBSA section.

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