Exploring the perceptions of parents and young people with emotionally based school refusal and those who support them in the context of changing services

Prof Doc Thesis

Passmore, Jan 2009. Exploring the perceptions of parents and young people with emotionally based school refusal and those who support them in the context of changing services. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsPassmore, Jan
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This qualitative study aimed to explore the experiences of parents and young people who are demonstrating emotionally based school refusal behaviour (EBSR) in terms of the sense that they make of their difficulties and their views about the helpfulness or otherwise of the support they have received. In addition it sought the views of those practitioners, schools and agencies supporting such children and parents, to identify what is helpful currently and what could be done to improve support.

Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with six young people and their parents and the views of practitioners, schools and agencies supporting these families were analysed using Thematic Analysis.

All the participants identified positive and negative experiences, but were in agreement that more needs to be done to effectively support pupils with emotionally based school refusal. Practitioners, schools and agencies were
conscious of pitfalls in the system which sometimes meant school refusing behaviour becomes more entrenched and difficult to resolve than it needs to be.
All identified that EBSR is complex, puzzling and very frustrating for all involved.
All were in agreement that better communication between schools, professionals, children, young people and their parents would be helpful, as would thinking about and responding to each case individually, empathetically
and creatively. All observed that a greater coherence between agencies was needed with a quicker response. It was acknowledged that EBSR is often poorly understood and inadequately responded to. Parents and young people are keen
to be involved and to be pro-active in finding ways forward to ensure that they do achieve, obtain qualifications and have the opportunity to move on.

The implications from these results suggest that schools and professionals supporting children, young people and their parents need to reflect upon their current working practices and look for quicker and more effective ways of
supporting the families to get the child back into school or into a suitable learning environment, if they are to promote achievement and well being in this group of pupils.

Rather than viewing this group of pupils as dysfunctional, they could be seen to be displaying behaviour that demonstrates their discomfort in functioning in large scale secondary school environments, so shifting attention from a within child model to the wider system. If basic human needs are not met, such as the need to feel safe, secure and included and if those around are unable to adequately respond by containing and helping the child to address and deal with their anxieties, school refusal may be the consequence. The challenge is to consider how to meet the needs of the individual pupil within the large environment of a secondary school.

KeywordsEmotionally based school refusal behaviour; Dysfunctional pupils; Secondary school environments,
Publication dates
PrintSep 2009
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Oct 2013
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