School refusal

Dr Zoë Ellison-Wright

60 minutes


November 2019

CPD learning module

CPD domain:

School refusal.jpg

School attendance is important for a child’s educational and social development.

Non-attendance is associated with:

  • reduced academic performance
  • social isolation
  • impaired self-esteem
  • increased likelihood of unemployment in the future.

There are many reasons why a child may fail to attend school. Sometimes absence can be authorised, for example due to illness. Unauthorised absence could be caused by parents keeping the child at home, for example to help around the house. 

However, this module will focus on child-motivated non-attendance, specifically due to problems such as fear, anxiety or oppositional behaviour, rather than truancy. This is know as emotionally based school refusal. 

After explaining how to classify and understand the causes of school non-attendance, we will discuss how to provide a comprehensive assessment and management plan and suggest approaches for more complex cases.


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