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Strategies for addressing Emotionally-Based School Avoidance

Emotionally-Based School Avoidance (EBSA) is a complex issue where students experience intense anxiety or distress about attending school, leading to frequent absences. Unlike general absenteeism, EBSA is rooted in emotional distress rather than defiance or disinterest.

Here are some strategies and tips for schools to effectively address and manage EBSA:

Develop Observational Protocols

Train staff to recognise subtle signs of distress, such as changes in behaviour, academic performance, or social interactions. Early identification is key to providing timely support.

Regular Check-Ins

Implement scheduled meetings with students showing signs of EBSA. These check-ins should provide a safe space for students to express their feelings and challenges related to school.

Enhanced Collaboration

Establish a core support team that includes teachers, counsellors, parents, and other relevant staff. This team should work together to create a consistent support network around the student, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding interventions and support strategies.

Peer Support

Facilitate peer mentoring programs where students can share experiences and strategies in a safe, supportive environment. Peers can often provide relatable advice and support that adults may not be able to offer.

Emotionally-Based School Avoidance

Gradual Reintegration

For students who have been absent for extended periods, develop a phased plan for returning to school. This might start with partial days or selected classes to help ease them back into the school environment.

Flexible Learning Options

Provide alternative learning methods or environments as needed. This could include quieter study areas, options for online assignments, or modified schedules to accommodate the student's needs.

Specialist Interventions

Engage with psychologists or therapists who can work with the school to implement targeted interventions designed to reduce school-related anxiety. These professionals can offer valuable insights and strategies tailored to individual student needs.

Open Communication

Ensure that parents feel comfortable communicating their concerns with the school. Provide them with tools and resources to support their child at home, fostering a collaborative approach to managing EBSA.

Parent helping daughter with homework

Ongoing Assessment

Regularly review the effectiveness of implemented strategies. Be open to making adjustments as necessary to ensure that the interventions remain effective and responsive to the student's evolving needs.

Feedback Loops

Create systems for students to provide feedback on their experiences and the support they receive. Their insights can help shape future interventions and ensure that support remains student-centered.

Reach out and Notice the Signs

Regularly check in with students and be aware of signs that they might be struggling. Offer support and ensure they know they are not alone in their experiences.

Look After Yourself

Remember that supporting students with EBSA can be challenging for educators too. Ensure you are taking care of your own mental health so you can be an effective support for your students.

By implementing these strategies, educators can create a supportive environment that prioritises students' wellbeing and helps them overcome the challenges associated with EBSA. If you are interested in learning more about our mental health and wellbeing training courses or consultancy support, please visit our services page or get in touch.

Useful resources on EBSA:


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