School Attendance Difficulties

From Sunshine Support Blog : “School refusal” is fast becoming one of the most challenging areas of education, health and care for children and young people. Parents are put under pressure to ensure their children attend school, whilst professionals seldom have expertise in “school refusal” and, by default, call in education welfare officers or threaten fines.

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School attendance difficulties are complex but all too often these children are described as being “fine” when they are in school. Define Fine has produced resources based on relevant government policies and guidance, to help parents and their families to work with professionals to assess and then plan appropriate and timely support.

Not Fine in School is a parent/carer-led organisation set up in response to the growing number of children and young people who struggle with school attendance. This is often inaccurately or unfairly referred to as 'school refusal', so we prefer to promote use of the term 'School Attendance Barriers'. These barriers may relate to unmet Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (diagnosed or suspected), bullying, trauma, excessive levels of academic pressure, physical illness or mental illness. School attendance barriers are poorly understood, are compounded by current challenges within education and health systems, and if not removed effectively, can have severe consequences for both child and family. NFIS aims to support these children and families, and raise awareness of their experiences. NFIS is also keen to support professionals who wish to see improvements to the support offered, and change to responses within systems to reduce the numbers of children experiencing attendance barriers.

We must flip the narrative of “school refusal”. School refusal is the assumption that the child/young person is making a willing decision to not attend school; that the child has control over this decision and by doing so is causing a great inconvenience to all stakeholders (parents, teachers etc).

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