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Anxiety based school avoidance (ABSA)

Please see our anxiety based school avoidance pages for parents and carers for general information and advice.

Research suggests that students who display ABSA are far more likely to suffer negative consequences in the longer term. This includes restricted opportunities for further education and employment prospects.

Negative mental health and social consequences have also been well documented and early support and intervention at school-age are crucial to negate this.

Impact of ABSA on schools

  • Attendance – anxiety and refusal if not identified early and adequately managed can lead to significant attendance issue for schools.
  • Attainment – if students are not at school they are not learning and if they are not learning they do not attain to the best of their ability – their failure to attain is also yours and you are judged on this.
  • Safeguarding – is the student anxious or avoiding school as a result of (alleged) poorly managed bullying? If the student is avoiding school, are they safe?

Ofsted will consider all of the above during inspections.


A recent research project commissioned by Devon County Council and carried out by our Educational Psychology Service has led to the development of a range of resources to support schools in identifying and supporting students displaying anxiety based school avoidance (ABSA). The full document and individual resources are provided below: