School refusal

by Dr Zoë Ellison-Wright


Last updated: November 2019


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 known 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.


Start the module


If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Depression in children and adolescents: Part 1 and Part 2 by Dr Raphael Kelvin


Alcohol-related brain damage by Professor Kenneth Wilson, Dr Joy Bell and Dr Vanessa Craig


First-episode psychosis: Part 1 and Part 2 by Dr Andrew Thompson, Dr Rick Fraser and Dr Richard Whale


Social functioning in schizophrenia by Dr K. Thyarappa Praveen and Dr Rob Macpherson



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