EBSA Emotionally based school avoidance - Elsa Support

EBSA Emotionally based school avoidance

Understanding Emotionally-Based School Avoidance (EBSA)

Emotionally-Based School Avoidance, commonly known as EBSA, refers to the challenges faced by children and young people in attending school. These individuals may experience negative emotions or anxiety related to going to school, which can result in either non-attendance or reduced attendance. The anxiety cycle perpetuates as attending school causes emotional and physical distress.

It’s important to note that these pupils are not simply refusing school; therefore, the term “school refusal” is outdated and fails to address the underlying causes of non-attendance. Typically, emotional, mental health, or well-being issues contribute to a pupil’s reluctance to attend school or their complete absence. Pupils do not intentionally choose to avoid school; instead, they feel scared, anxious, sad, worried, and various other emotions beyond their control.

There are numerous reasons why a pupil may resist attending school, and as educators, it is crucial to provide them with a platform to express their concerns. Sometimes, pupils themselves may not fully understand the reasons behind their avoidance. In such cases, this workbook serves as a valuable resource, guiding pupils in exploring the difficulties they may be facing.

By addressing EBSA with empathy and support, educators can help pupils navigate their emotions and gradually overcome the barriers that hinder their school attendance.



This workbook will gently explore all those difficulties a young person may have about school.

The activity consists of a sorting board, cards with suggestions, cards for pupils to write their own, an exploration board, a feelings board with scales and changes and what they want to happen to make things feel ok.

This activity will help pupils to identify what is bothering them at school and how to reduce that feeling by changing the situation.

This next workbook explores the CBT cycle and will help pupils with their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.


EBSA workbook school thoughts and feelings

The pupil may have negative thoughts about school which leads to difficult feelings, physical sensations and the pupil wants to avoid going to school so doesn’t go. The cycle can continue.

This workbook will help the pupil to identify their thoughts, inspect them, challenge them and change them. This will help them to have more comfortable feelings and may help them to get back into school.

Work through the workbook together. There are sheets to support such as lots of feeling words, suggestions for thoughts both positive and negative. There are thought challenging questions and examples of how positive and negative thoughts impact on feelings, physical sensations and behaviours.

Every activity should be easy to follow with adult support. At the end of the workbook the pupil will hopefully understand that link between their thoughts and behaviours.

Our next workbook is about coping strategies and how pupils can cope with the feelings they have.


ebsa workbook coping with school worries

It looks at worry time, finding solutions to those worries that are in their control, breathing exercises, mindfulness, exercise, safe place, changing thoughts, self care sleep tips, and relaxation time.

Pupils who are worried or anxious about school need help in how to cope with those big feelings. This workbook will guide them through ways to cope with their anxiety.

Every activity should be easy to follow with adult support. At the end of the workbook the pupil will hopefully understand that there are lots of things they can do to help themselves.

This resource will help pupils to describe their perfect school so the person supporting can identify things that will make life easier for the pupil.


ebsa my perfect school

This resource will help a pupil to investigate how they want their school to be. What would be a perfect school? What do they want in their perfect school.

Link to EBSA School feelings lapbook

EBSA School feelings lapbook

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