Interpreting the information and action planning

Following the gathering of information from the child, family, school and any other professional it is essential that this information is gathered together and ‘sense’ is made of it. That an overview of the whole picture and various factors involved are obtained and potential hypothesis are formed. These should then inform the return to school support plan.

The form below is designed to help you integrate the information gathered from the young person, school and family. It is not designed to be a questionnaire but a tool to be completed after the information gathering to help you collate, integrate and analyse the information gathered form a variety of sources. A blank copy can be found in Appendix 3 Information gathering and integration.

At the Formulation and Integration Stage schools can access telephone consultation support from the Educational Psychology Service to assist in the identification of function of the EBSA behaviour and inform the subsequent action planning and intervention.

Description of Behaviour
  • What is the current rate of attendance?
  • Are there any patterns to non-attendance? Particular days or lessons?
  • History of behaviour; when did it first occur, have there been similar difficulties?
  • Behaviour and symptoms of anxiety – what does it look like? What does the child say about any specific fears and difficulties?
  • Risk factors school, child and family
  • Developmental and educational history (health, medical, sensory or social factors)
  • Any changes in family dynamic? (Separation, loss, birth of a sibling, health issues of other family members)
  • Any other needs within the family?
  • Strengths and protective factors
  • What strengths do they have?
  • Do they have any aspirations or ambitions?
  • What positive relationships do they have at home and at school (peers and staff)?
  • What positive experiences have they had at school?
  • What was different about the times when the young person was able to get into school?
  • What has been helpful in the past?
  • Formulation & integration of various factors
  • What is people’s understanding of why the young person is demonstrating these behaviours?
  • Are there any differences of views?
  • What risk factors have been identified (child, school and family)?
  • What strengths have been identified that can be built upon?

  • What is the function of the behaviour – is it:
  • To avoid something or situations that elicits negative feelings or high levels of stress (e.g. fear of the toilets; the noise in the playground; lots of people moving all together in the corridors between classes, tests/ exams)
  • To escape difficult social situations (e.g. feeling left out at playtime; reading out loud in class or other public speaking/group task; working as part of a group)
  • To get attention from or spend more time with significant others (e.g. change in family dynamic, concerned about the well being of parent).
  • To spend more time out of school as it is more fun or stimulating (go shopping, play computer games, hang out with friends).
  • Are there any maintaining factors?
  • Action Planning

    After the information gathering and analysis process has occurred a return to school or support plan should be made.

    All plans need to be co-produced with parents, the child and any other appropriate agencies. All parties need to be signed up.

    Each plan will be different according to the actions indicated by the assessment, what worked with one child will not necessarily work with another.

    The plans should always be realistic and achievable with the aim of reintegrating the young person. An overly ambitious plan is likely to fail. The return should be gradual and graded and recognition by all that a ‘quick fix’ is not always possible. A part time timetable may be necessary as part of this process but this should always be temporary and not seen as a long term option as all children are entitled to a full time education.

    All parties should be aware that there may be difficulties implementing the plan and these should be anticipated and solutions found. An optimistic approach should be taken, if the child fails to attend school on one day, start again the next day. Parents and school should anticipate that there is likely to be more difficulty after a school holiday, period of illness or after the weekend.

    At the start of the plan the child is likely to show more distress and all should be aware of this. School staff and parents need to work together to agree a firm and consistent approach. Any concerns about the process should not be shared with the child a ‘united front’ is recommended. Any concerns should be communicated away from the child.

    Schools should take an individual and flexible approach to the young person’s needs. All school staff that will come into contact with the young person should be aware of the return to school plan and any adaptations to normal routines or expectations that are in place to support the child.

    Once actions on a support plan are agreed with a young person, e.g. returning to school in very finely graded steps, stick to what has been agreed for that week, even if things seem to be going really well, as pushing things further than agreed can heighten anxiety, reduce trust and backfire overall. The format of the support plan should be flexible. If appropriate a young person’s version should be created. Examples of a support plan can be found in Appendix 4 Example support plans. Literature has identified key elements of support that should be in place in order for re- integration action plan to be successful.

    Key elements of any plan
    Direct telephone contact between parent/carers and key workers in school. Agree expectations regarding frequency of contact and set realistic response times.
    A return to school at the earliest opportunity.

    Early home visits if appropriate to discuss the young person’s reluctance to attend school. All parties to agree to actions and keep to them until the next review period.| A personalised programme for each young person. (e.g. flexible timetable, arrangements for transport, buddying, and provision of a safe haven).| Ensuring the young person has access to an identified member of staff who can be approached if anxiety becomes temporarily overwhelming in school (i.e. a key worker).| Ensuring all staff (including supply staff) are informed about the young person's difficulties, particularly during changes of classes/key stages.| Identifying a safe place or base in school that the young person can go to if needed| Identifying a member of staff for the young person to ‘check in’ with throughout the day| Considering whether or not a family assessment such as an Early Help Plan would be helpful to identify whole family support|

    Download a PDF version of the Emotionally Based School Avoidance Guidance and other leaflets here.