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Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA)

In Milton Keynes, as well as nationally, we are seeing an increase in children and young people experiencing difficulty in attending school due to emotional reasons like anxiety. Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA) is a broad umbrella term used to describe this. EBSA can present differently across individuals, but can often involve fear and anxiety, misery, complaints of feeling ill without an obvious cause, and/or reluctance to leave home.


The MK EBSA project was set up in response to the increase in children and young people experiencing EBSA. A working group was established with representatives from several difference services and organisations, including Children and Families Practices, Educational Psychology Service, EHC Team, Inclusion Specialist Teaching Team, schools, CAMHS, Mental Health Support Teams, SEND Information and Advice Service (SENDIAS) and the Parent and Carer Alliance (PACA MK).

The project aims were to develop a shared understanding of good practice in supporting children and young people experiencing EBSA. The project has three strands:

  • To gain a greater understanding of the local picture of need and prevalence
  • To develop helpful resources and guidance
  • To work with partners to develop a joined-up pathway of how to support for children and young people experiencing EBSA. 


The Milton Keynes EBSA Guidance comprises two parts: Information and Practical Support. Both parts aim to draw upon evidence-based theory and practice to provide useful guidance for schools, parents and other professionals when supporting children and young people who experience EBSA.

These guidance documents were developed by Milton Keynes Educational Psychology Service as part of the Milton Keynes EBSA Working Group and they complement the Milton Keynes EBSA Support Pathway.

Printable word versions of the EBSA Part Two (Practical) Guidance for Schools can be sent to you. If you would like these, please email:

For further information on getting support in Milton Keynes, please see: How You Feel Matters

EBSA Pathways

Please see the joined-up Milton Keynes EBSA Support Pathway, for both professionals and parents, below.


The Educational Psychology Service are offering training for parents and schools on EBSA.


We have collected information from a range of sources to better understand the views and experiences of local children and young people, parents and schools with respect to EBSA.

Questionnaires were sent out to schools, settings and to parents/carers, asking for their views and experiences, including the nature of the difficulties experiences, what has worked and what more could be done to support for children and young people, families and parents.

We have also met with children and young people who have experienced or are currently experiencing EBSA to gain their views. Please see a summary of the key findings from each below.

Children and Young People

Parent and Carers