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What is School Refusal?

School refusal is the significant absence from school by a young person due to severe difficulty attending school. The avoidance of school or school-based situations causes worry or anxiety for the young person. 


School refusal is said to occur when: ​

  1. a young person is reluctant or refuses to attend school, in conjunction with emotional distress ​

  2. the young person does not try to hide associated absence from their parents​

  3. the young person does not display severe antisocial behaviour​

  4. the parents have made reasonable efforts to secure attendance at school, and/or express their intention for their child to attend school full-time. ​

        (Heyne, Gren Landell, Melvin, & Gentle Genitty, 2019)

School refusal behaviours range from repeated missing of classes, to regular absences from school and to extended periods of time away from school. It is a complex issue that may impact the young person’s friendships and social connections, family relationships, connections with school staff and learning and academic outcomes. It can be a stressful experience for young people and their families, as well as school staff and other professionals.

A support team and multi-disciplinary approach assists to re-build positive connections with school and to re-establish home routines in order to increase school readiness and attendance.

This website has been developed to provide resources and practical strategies to support school staff, parents and carers and other professionals to work together and support young people to positively engage in their schooling.

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