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Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA) Information

What is Emotionally Based School Avoidance?

Emotionally Based School Avoidance is a broad umbrella term used to describe a group of children and young people who have severe difficulty in attending school due to emotional factors, often resulting in prolonged absences from school. A clear distinction is made between those that are absent from school due to truanting and those that are absent from school due to the specific emotional distress that they experience around attending school.

There is no single cause for EBSA and there are likely to be various contributing factors for why a young person may be finding it difficult to attend school. It is well recognised in the research literature that EBSA is often underpinned by a number of complex and interlinked factors, including the young person, the family and the school environment.


There are indicators that show that there tends to be four main reasons for school avoidance:

  1. To avoid uncomfortable feelings brought on by attending school, such as feelings of anxiety or low mood.
  2. To avoid situations that might be stressful, such as academic demands, social pressures and/or aspects of the school environment.
  3. To reduce separation anxiety or to gain attention from significant others, such as parents or other family members.
  4. To pursue tangible reinforces outside of school, such as going shopping or playing computer games during school time.


For some young people, the distress may be obvious in their presentation and chronic non- attendance. However for others, these difficulties may not be so easily identifiable. These young people may demonstrate sporadic attendance, missing the odd day here and there or particular lessons, or may only be able to attend school when provided with a high level of support and a modified timetable.


The onset of EBSA may be sudden or gradual. As a school we are here to support your child and your family should your child have difficulties around attending school. We will work closely with you and each family case will be very different and require a bespoke intervention plan to support. If you have any concerns around your child's emotional wellbeing, their attendance or challenges you have in getting them to school, please contact Mrs Henderson.