A search was carried out to examine the topic of children experiencing school refusal. The search looks at; triggers for school refusal, the needs of these children and the voices of these children in the form of quotes, videos and pictures. Much of the research suggests school refusal is a complex issue that requires proper investigation to find out the issues faced by the child and then to provide support to meet the needs of that child.
The full search report is available to download below.
There were a vast number of potential triggers for school refusal including: anxiety, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), illness, bullying, social issues, issues at home, school environment, trauma, adverse childhood experiences, poverty, and transition to high school.
The Children’s Commissioner carried out research and as a result identified 6 areas that should provide conditions required to meet the needs of all children:
- Decisions about children’s education need to be made with children and their families. Listening to children and exploring reasons for not attending.
- Support in school. Children are missing school because of unmet SEND or mental health needs, bullying not being addressed or problems at home.
- Exclusion or suspension should act as a trigger for targeted support, with their needs assessed, and a plan put in place for those needs to be met.
- No child should feel that they need to miss school to support their family, including; providing care for a family member, caring for their own child, or providing financial support. These children need to be identified and supported.
- Schools, Local Authorities, social care, NHS workers and community partners all have a responsibility to see the child in school every day, and to wrap support around that child.
- Local Authorities and schools need clear data to identify children not attending regularly or missing from education.
Voices of Children
Common themes from the voices of children were:
- Their issues being dismissed
- Feeling unheard
- Being blamed
- Lack of support
- Long waits/forgotten
Please note these search results are not exhaustive but provide an overview of the topic areas.