If your child is not attending school due to anxiety and/or emotional issues, then the following information can be used to support you in preparing for a meeting to talk about working to re-engage your child with their education.

Before the meeting

Before the meeting, think about the following questions and make some notes of things you would like to discuss:     

  • Has your child ever had issues with attendance before e.g. at primary school?
  • If not, what might have changed?
  • Are there any issues with their friends, or other children in the school?
  • Do they feel safe at school?
  • Are they struggling with the level of the curriculum?
  • Is it the sensory environment that they find difficult?
  • Do they struggle with the social and emotional expectations of school?
  • Do they lack key skills needed on a daily basis at school?
  • Is there a particular lesson or staff member that causes distress?
  • Have you taken them to GP to check there’s no underlying health issue?
  • Do they have any formal diagnoses?
  • If your child has an EHCP, has anyone suggested an Early Annual Review?
  • If there is no EHCP, does their SEND planning need to be reviewed?
  • Might an EHC needs assessment be helpful?
  • Is there a plan for getting your child back into school (sometimes called a reintegration plan or timetable)
  • Does your child want to work on returning to school, or are they asking for a different provision?
  • Has an Early Help assessment been suggested?

If your child would like to contribute to the discussions but does not feel they can attend in person, you can also take some notes about their views, wishes and feelings to share on their behalf.     

During the meeting

Take your notes about discussion points with you to the meeting. In addition to these you might want to also cover the following:     

  • How is your child’s absence being recorded?
  • Discussion about potential underlying causes for the non-attendance and how this can be further explored.
  • Has school asked for advice from other services such as the Educational Psychologist?
  • Has a referral to Mindmate been made if there are suspected underlying, undiagnosed needs?
  • If your child is under CAMHS, is a referral to the medical needs teaching service appropriate?
  • What is a realistic time frame to build them back up to full time?
  • What small steps can be put in place and built upon, such as an interest in a specific lesson, or a trusted adult they feel comfortable talking to?
  • Has the school considered/explored any Alternative Provision?
  • Have they contacted the Area Inclusion Partnership (AIP)?
  • Can the school make a referral to Cluster for support, or do they have access to a counsellor?
  • Are any creative interventions available, such as art therapy, Lego therapy, social intervention groups, social stories, visual prompts and/or talking mats etc?
  • Is a risk assessmemt needed?

Ideally, during the meeting a support or re-integration plan would be agreed. Make sure you are aware of what has been agreed will be put in place and any referrals being made. Try to leave the meeting being clear on what the next steps will be and when the plan will be reviewed and discussed again.     

If your child was not present at the discussion, agree who will update them on the support plan and next steps that have been agreed.     

Make sure you know who your key contact will be, so that you can communicate any important information or developments to them, and receive them in return.     

Also make sure you are clear on how any futher absence will be recorded and how the school or setting plan to manage this. e.g. welfare visits, virtual learning package, key worker check ins.     

After the meeting

The agreed support or re-integration plan should now be actioned and monitored.     

There should be a planned review to ensure progress is being made, or to look at other options if there are still barriers.     

On-ward referrals, assessments and/or changes of placement will likley take time, so there should still be an education offer in place in the meantime. If your child has an EHCP this can be agreed as part of the plan and should involve the local authority as the legal duty to secure provision outlined in the plan sits with them. If there is no EHCP, then the legal duty to provide education is with the on-roll school or setting.