School related anxiety

If your child/young person is anxious, and missed a lot of time at school

Emotionally Based School Non-Attendance (EBSNA) is a term used by Trafford Council to describe children and young people who have significant difficulties in attending school due to a range of emotional factors resulting in extended absence from school.

Schools do not currently have any legal obligations beyond recording attendance, taking reasonable steps to establish the whereabouts of absent pupils, and reporting absences to their Local Authorities. The Department for Education states that ‘schools should put in place appropriate safeguarding responses for children who go missing from school, particularly on repeat occasions.’

Seeking help

When your child or young person starts to miss school or college and their behaviour and/or anxiety appears to be worsening both at school and at home, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. One of the first steps is to visit your GP and explain to them what has been happening. If the GP feels they are not fit to attend school, ask for them to write a letter explaining this to the Local Authority. They may also refer your child or young person to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

The LA have a legal duty to provide suitable education for children of compulsory school age who are out of school “by reason of illness, exclusion from school or otherwise”, under section 19 Education Act 1996. This education should be full-time unless, for reasons relating to her physical or mental health, it would not be in their best interests for full-time education to be provided.

There is statutory guidance for LAs entitled ‘Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs’. Full-time education is not defined in law, but the guidance states it should equate to what the pupil would normally have in school.

It is also important to talk to your child or young person’s educational placement as soon as possible so that support can be implemented. Early identification and intervention are likely to lead to greater success. It is important for schools and colleges to be attentive to a child or young person’s communication (both verbally and through their behaviours), staff and parental concerns, as well as patterns of punctuality and attendance and be aware of those at higher risk.

Through discussion the ‘push’ factors (those that push the child or young person towards school e.g., friends) and ‘pull’ factors (those that pull the child or young person away from attending e.g., separation anxiety from significant others) can be identified and an individualised action plan that will support the child or young person can be agreed.

There are certain groups that are at higher risk of EBSNA which includes children and young people with sensory processing, social communication needs or a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum, those who experience separation anxiety, those who have experienced significant trauma or are experiencing interpersonal difficulties with peers or teaching staff. An Early Identification of Needs Tool is included in the Virtual Mental Wealth Hub Toolkit on the Trafford Directory.