Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA)

Supporting children and young people who have severe difficulty in attending school due to emotional factors.

Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA) is a broad term. It describes children and young people who have severe difficulty in attending school due to emotional factors. This often results in prolonged absences from school.

It is difficult to estimate the prevalence of EBSA. In the UK it affects approximately 2% of the school population. There is a slightly higher prevalence for secondary school students. It is equally common in males and females with little evidence of a link to socioeconomic status.

The impact of EBSA on young people is far reaching. Difficulties can often quickly spiral requiring inpatient treatment. Outcomes for young people who display EBSA include:

  • poor academic attainment
  • reduced social opportunities
  • limited employment opportunities
  • poor adult mental health.

The Educational Psychology Service have produced some guidance for EBSA. It's based on the current evidence for factors which contribute to positive outcomes. These include:

  • intervening early
  • working with parents and school staff as well as the young person
  • working in a flexible way, paying attention to the individual
  • emphasising the need for rapid return to school
  • good support and adaptations within the school environment.

View the EBSA Guidance on the Services for Schools website.