Emotionally based school avoidance (recording)

Marketing Manager for ACAMH

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This webinar discussed Emotionally based school avoidance (EBSA) a term used to describe young people who have difficulty attending school due to emotional needs. Dr. Cat Halligan and Jemma Michelson who have developed and delivered the Royal Free Children’s Hospital School’s ‘LinkEdUP’ online reengagement programme were our speakers and it was organised by our the ACAMH London and South East Branch.


ACAMH Members can receive a CPD certificate, simply email and let us know the date and time that you watched the recording.

About the session

In comparison to previously favoured terms such as ‘school refuser’, EBSA highlights the impact of unmet emotional needs over school non-attendance which then informs the intervention offered for students struggling to attend school. Supporting the psychological needs of young people with attendance difficulties is therefore crucial to create change. The LinkEdUp programme, designed and delivered by the Royal Free Hospital School and Camden’s Educational Psychology Service, aims to re-engage young people with school by supporting students, families and school staff to implement a phased return to school. This talk will outline the nature of the initial 2 week re-engagement programme and follow up support offered to schools and families over two terms. Early evaluation data suggests that the LinkEdUp programme has had a positive impact on student attendance and engagement with learning: further impact data will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand what Emotionally Based School Avoidance is and the principles underpinning psychological intervention for students
  • To outline the LinkEdUp programme in terms of its aims, delivery and impact

About the speakers

Dr. Cat Halligan is an Educational Psychologist working in the London Borough of Camden. In her current role, she specialises in working with young people, families and schools affected by social, emotional and mental health difficulties, including those with school attendance difficulties. She has worked with mainstream and specialist schools, supporting young people with a range of needs, their families and school staff. Prior to becoming an Educational Psychologist, Cat was a secondary teacher in London. She has recently published research about school attendance difficulties and teaching strategies for low attaining GCSE students.

Jemma Michelson has experience of working as a Primary teacher in mainstream London schools for over 10 years. In her current role, she works as a teacher at the Royal Free Children’s hospital school engaging with young people who are unable to attend school because they are receiving medical treatment in hospital. She holds the responsibility of Designated Safeguard lead as well as school Liaison teacher for the Eating Disorder Intensive service (Royal Free NHS Trust), coordinating bespoke education plans of reintegration for young people who are missing education due to ongoing  medical treatment.




Really interesting to learn what works well so we can share ideas with schools. A link to your resources would be helpful for families. Such a need to work intensely but a pity there’s a lack off take up in some schools and a rush to get them back in school. I agree with your findings as I work in SENDIASS and this is our experience of listening to families. Schools need to be more inclusive in their practice. Well done ??

I do question. If just settling up regular timetable, getting up, dressed , ready to go to school is habit which could automatically iniiate positive outcome s regards school attendance.

I live in Aberdeen and I am a mother of a boy 14 year old who is struggling going to the school and it’s really a shame to say that I found no help in the school who attended so hopefully this change in a short time.

Hi it was very useful lecture.

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