Collection: Continuing school during and after prolonged absenteeism


Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA): Students’ Views of What Works in a Specialist Setting



“Emotionally based school avoidance” (EBSA) is a term used to describe young people who have difficulty attending school due to emotional needs. In comparison to previously favoured terms such as “school refuser”, EBSA highlights the impact of unmet emotional needs over school non-attendance, which then informs the intervention offered for students struggling to attend school. This paper presents an exploratory single-case study undertaken at a specialist GCSE setting (School X) for students experiencing EBSA. The work was commissioned by the programme following three consecutive years in which all students completing their GCSEs (national curriculum) showed improvement in attendance and 85% achieved above their predicted grade. In addition, 95% of students were still in post-16 study after leaving the school. The study, therefore, aimed to explore students’ views of protective factors in a setting where they have previously made progress in terms of attendance and achievement.

Qualitative data were gathered using semi-structured questions with students in a group setting, delivered online using an anonymised computer software system. Quantitative data were gathered with students in a one-to-one situation using an adaption of the Q-sort technique, a self-contained “qualiquantilogical” methodology that aims to explore human subjectivity. Findings were collectively analysed using thematic analysis, which produced two over-arching themes: interconnectivity and psychological safety. Findings from this study are considered alongside research about interventions suggested to be effective for supporting students experiencing EBSA to re-engage with school and education.


Emotionally based school avoidanceschool attendancespecialist setting
  • Year: 2022
  • Volume: 3 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 13–24
  • DOI: 10.5334/cie.38
  • Submitted on 23 Dec 2021
  • Accepted on 8 Apr 2022
  • Published on 18 May 2022
  • Peer Reviewed