School Avoidance Toolkit: Information for Schools and Parents

School Avoidance Toolkit: Information for Schools and ParentsThis practical toolkit developed by Clare CYPS has been designed for an in-school and out-of-school setting. It can be used by any practitioner who is working with a young person of secondary school age or their parents/carers.

Section 1 is particularly important for practitioners who are not working in the education sector and want a broad understanding about the current structures that are in place regarding school avoidance in the post-primary school environment.

Section 2 is a recommended core piece of work that should be undertaken by all practitioners using this toolkit. Anxiety is the root cause of all avoiding behaviour and should be explored further to  understanding why the young person is not attending school.

Section 3 gives practitioners a set of tools they can use to start the conversation with their student/client and explore their anxieties/thoughts on why school avoidance is happening and what they need in order to return to school.

Sections 4 and 5 cover a broad range of topics that can lead to anxiety and in turn avoiding they can use. Section 4 is for practitioners working directly with young people and Section 5 is aimed at practitioners working directly with parents of young people avoiding school.

Section 6 explores the theme of trauma and how an abundance of adverse childhood experiences can lead to a trauma-based response in a young person. This may present in the classroom in a myriad of ways and could also exacerbate school avoidance if not supported and understood for the complex issue it is.


Who is this toolkit for and how can you use it?
How to use the toolkit
What is school avoidance?
What causes school avoidance?
Section 1 The educational environment, supports and structures that are currently in place
What can the school do?
Role of the Year Head
Role of the School Guidance Counsellor
Role of the Student Support Team (Post Primary)
School-based programmes/curriculum/extra-curricular supports
External educational supports schools can avail of in relation to school avoiding behaviour
DEIS Schools: What is DEIS?
General guidelines for intervention
Next steps for practitioners if interventions are not yielding results
Home tuition policy and procedures
Section 2 Anxiety at the core of school avoiding behaviour
What anxiety looks like
What are the signs of anxiety?
How clinical anxiety may present
Working with a young person
How to assist a young person in facing and feeling
Working with the parent/guardian
What can you do as a parent/guardian when you feel anxious, and your young person also experiences anxiety?
Practical tips for young people and parents
Signposting for support services
Section 3 Checking in: Exploring the broader issues that are leading to the avoiding behaviour school attendance
Section 4 Engaging with young people on issues affecting school attendance

Factors leading to school avoidance
Intimate relationships
LGBTQI+ students
Relationship with parents
Relationship with the school
Online relationships
Living in temporary and/or group settings
Parental separation
Family bereavement
Parental addiction
Parental mental health
Young people with additional needs
School transition
Section 5 Engaging with parents on issues affecting school attendance
Supporting parents when addiction results in school avoidance
Supporting parents when parental separation results in school avoidance
Supporting parents when bereavement and loss result in school avoidance
Supporting parents when mental health issues result in school avoidance
Supporting parents when bullying results in school avoidance
Supporting parents when LGBTQ+ issues result in school avoidance
Section 6 Adverse childhood experiences and impact on school behaviour
What is trauma?
How trauma impacts on the learning brain
Student Support Teams supporting a young person in trauma
Resources and further learning about trauma and education