school refusers

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School Refusal
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School refusal and anxiety since June 2018

My 13-year-old son suddenly seem to develop anxiety and started refusing to go to school at the end of the academic year last year. He is currently undergoing CBT therapy once a week and is on week three or four of taking fluoxetine.

We have seen some improvement in him generally. His anxiety levels seem less and he has been able to do some things that he was not able to do just a few months ago, like eating in a restaurant, seeing friends outside of school, even travelling on the motorway! However attending school still seems to be a real problem for him.

I feel this is all consuming for me and I find it hard to remain positive and not feel anxious myself. I worry about his future and whether he will be able to get an education.

I wonder if anyone has moved their child to a different school in these circumstances? The school he is currently attending is very large, 300 pupils per year group, and is a high achieving school. I wonder if he would be better attending a smaller private school which focuses more on the individual child and the pastoral care of the child. Does anyone have any experience of this?

I am pleased I found This forum, as I feel completely out of my depth with this. Any help greatly appreciated.

Re: School refusal and anxiety since June 2018

Hi C

I am glad you found the forum - and know that you are not alone : )
I tried replying twice but when I got to verification - it lost my whole reply to you.
HOpefully this - now on my computer - will work!

School Refusal is an all consuming thing - so do make sure you do things just for you. Take up a hobby or sport, meet with friends over coffee or just do something special for you on a regular basis. You need this to keep regaining your strength.

As your son has only just started secondary and is young - a new smaller school might work. My son was 16 and so switching from the large school to a small supportive school didn't work for him as it was harder at that age to find new friends as they all had established friendships. Also in many cases the problem goes to the new school - so it is not a wise idea. But as your son is already getting lots of help outside of school - then this might be fine.

If you haven't already - go and visit the school and talk to the head. Ask them what they can offer your son (and you). Make sure they understand this is not a behaviour issue but a mental health issue.
See what support they have and get the feel for the place. Then take your son and see if you can slowly introduce him if you decide this is the best. A buddy system would be perfect - so that he doesn't have to feel he is starting without knowing someone. As long as your son is having the help he is already having, then a smaller school will most likely allow him not to feel so bad. Large schools just don't work for school refusal. My son fell through the system and it sounds like your son has too. Teachers didn't seem to have the time and the pastoral care was not enough to extend to school refusal. At the smaller school - they were prepared to often ring me - even to let me know how he was when at the school. They would catch up with him daily at first. Whereas at the other school they expected him to go to them - which never happened of course!

So if you can afford it - go and check it out - and see what you think.
Let us know what you decide and what made you come to the decision one way or the other -
Meanwhile - do something nice for yourself -and give your son a big hug : )
It is stressful for everyone involved and very bewildering for your son who does not know why he feels like he does.
Take care and I look forward to hearing from you soon,
Linda xx

Re: School refusal and anxiety since June 2018

Dear Linda

Thanks for your response and your perseverance!

As we are not sure whether a new school would do the trick or we would end up with the same issue and a large school fee bill, we have decided to give it until the end of this academic year with the treatment he is having and see where we are then. If we are still in the same situation then we will have to have a serious rethink, but we are hopeful that the continued CBT will help.

I will stay in touch and let you know how we get on.

Thanks again Linda.


Re: School refusal and anxiety since June 2018

Hi C

How are things going now with your son?
Are you still stuck in the rut or moving forward?
Hear from you soon,
take care,
Linda xx