Teenage Anxiety School Refusal

Anxiety among teenagers is much more common than you might suspect. Anxiety and school refusal can often go hand in hand when teens are feeling overwhelmed by what is happening at school, in class or in their relationships outside of school.

Signs of teenage anxiety

Indications that a teenager is suffering from anxiety can vary. They could be complaining of physical symptoms such as a stomach ache or headache or asking to stay home with symptoms that often disappear until the following school day. These signs are sometimes accompanied by behavioural issues and defiance towards their parents or teachers.

It can often seem that a teenager’s school refusal has appeared within the blink of an eye. However, many teens who refuse school have likely been battling with these feelings of anxiety or depression for a little while before their ‘symptoms’ become more evident and they actually begin refusing to attend school.

Anxiety and bullying

The cause of teenage anxiety is usually not straightforward, with the reasons varying from a teen being bullied or perhaps struggling academically. Anxiety can also become a problem if a teen has issues with facing authority and obeying rules, or if they are having difficulties in social settings and groups outside of school.

How can alternative provision help?

Legally, students who cannot attend mainstream school due to school refusal are eligible for high-quality alternative learning provision. Schools and local authorities are responsible for providing alternative education to school refusers which meets their educational needs and wellbeing.

Teen depression and school refusal

Anxiety leading to school refusal is often linked with depression, as these levels of unrest trigger feelings of tension and fear. Teenager’s who are depressed can often lack the motivation to attend which becomes another factor in their refusal to go to school.

Anxiety and depression can also fester into social anxiety, with a teen so quashed with worry that they develop profound feelings of embarrassment and feeling judged by others. Naturally, this will have a damaging influence on day-to-day activities, including school.

What should I do if a teenager refuses school?

When a teenager continues to refuse school and measures cannot be put in place to help them return, alternative education provision could be put in place to help ensure their education does not continue to suffer. Schools and local authorities have a responsibility to provide education to school refusers in the same way that parents must ensure their child attends school. Communication between parents, schools and local authorities is essential, to establish the best solution for the teenager.

Alternative online provision with Academy21

For students who are unable to attend mainstream school, including teenager’s with school refusal anxiety, Academy21 can provide online alternative provision. By working closely with schools and local authorities, online alternative provision delivers quality education to learners in the ‘safe space’ of their own home. For young people who are more able to cope in social groups and settings it can also be delivered to a dedicated classroom, alternative provision setting or learning centre – this might also be an appropriate venue for learning, for students on their path back to reintegration into their mainstream school classes.

For anxious learners, learning online means they are able to learn within a safe environment, allowing them complete control of how they communicate with their teachers and peers. All they need is an internet connection, headset and laptop to access quality education from any suitable location.

Small classes

Sometimes, anxious learners can initially be placed into particularly small class groups. Although learning takes place online, smaller virtual groups can feel like a safer place to learn. Classes generally takes place in groups of no more than 15, though on average group sizes may typically be between 8 and 12 for each lesson.

Live classrooms

Real-time lessons are delivered by qualified and experienced teachers via an online platform. Across the curriculum, each lesson follows the same structure. Likewise, the pupil’s daily schedule will also have consistent lesson times with the same Academy21 teacher.

Experienced Teachers

With extensive teaching experience in mainstream schools and with vulnerable pupil groups, our fully qualified subject-specialist teachers employ classroom practice designed that supports learners with complex needs. From the beginning, we liaise with school and local authority staff to ensure suitable learning strategies are put into place for each young person referred to us. These strategies will ensure unique requirements are met, whilst encouraging teenagers to engage and build their confidence.

Online lesson archive

Missed lessons are no longer an issue with alternative online provision. All lessons are recorded and stored in the Academy21 online archive, providing a sense of security for those who become anxious over missing lessons.

Learn in comfort

Particularly important for those suffering with anxiety is a safe and secure place to learn. Our classes can be attended from anywhere providing there is a suitable broadband connection and computer.

Safe and secure

A disconcerting element of mainstream schooling is often the unpredictable nature of the classroom. With online alternative provision, learners are in full control of how they communicate. Engagement is encouraged in every lesson and activity we set, but there is no concerted pressure to participate thus creating a further sense of control and therefore comfort to anxious learners. Over time, through positive reinforcement and use of the range of tools within our virtual classroom (coupled with attention to individual needs), we attempt to help rebuild confidence and improve participation and engagement. Every small step is celebrated and recognised.

How does online learning provision help a teenager with school refusal anxiety?

Learning in a mainstream school setting can sometimes accentuate the triggers for teenagers suffering with anxiety, such as the stress of missing lessons or social involvement with peers. Attending an online provision can provide a ‘safe’ space for anxious students to continue their study. Whether for short, respite provision as a planned route to reintegration back to school or, for those suffering with more complex anxiety disorders, a viable long term solution leading that can ensure they do not fall out of education and limit their opportunities to progress and achieve.

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