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Evidenced interventions for school refusal is a Course

Evidenced interventions for school refusal

Aug 16 - Sep 30, 2021

$790 Enrol

Full course description

Date and time

Friday 17 September 2021, 9.30 am to 3.30 pm

Delivery mode

In person at ISV, 40 Rosslyn St West Melbourne


This learning event is right for you if you are working with children or young people who exhibit school refusal, for example they might not attend school because of anxiety, especially social anxiety.


School refusal is an increasing problem for schools and parents alike. School refusal is best understood in terms of anxiety, particularly social anxiety. Typically, students who refuse to go to school, grossly exaggerate the judgments that other students might make about them and grossly underestimate their capacity to tolerate such judgements in the unlikely event that they occur. The irony is that first line, evidence-based intervention for this type of anxiety is well known and straightforward. It is called the exposure or desensitisation approach and is typically delivered by psychologists.

Whilst the intervention is well known, students and their families can be reluctant to visit a psychologist. As schools have excellent relationships with both students and their parents, it makes sense for school staff to deliver the intervention potentially with the guidance of a school-based psychologist. This program trains school-based staff to deliver this evidence based intervention for school refusal.

This learning event supports creating best practice toward meeting the following VRQA standard(s):

  • Care, Safety and Welfare of Students – Safe environment                                                                                             
  • Care, Safety and Welfare of Students – Student behaviour management (discipline)                                         
  • Care, Safety and Welfare of Students – Attendance monitoring                                                                                  
  • The minimum standards for schools offering a senior secondary course – Student welfare                             

Key takeaways                 

  • an understanding of what anxiety is and how is it different from social anxiety
  • an understanding of why avoidance is so addictive
  • a knowledge of safety behaviours: what they are and when are they a problem
  • an understanding of how to develop and implement a ‘distress scale’ with students
  • the ability to provide feedback to students
  • an appreciation of when to seek supervision from qualified mental health professionals.


Presenter information

Graeme Baird                   

Graeme is a psychologist who has been involved in the out of home care area for over thirty years. He developed Attend+, a program to assist the most marginalised young people in Australia to increase school attendance. These young people are often enmeshed in the youth justice, child protection and mental health systems, and education is the only path allows them to move forward and establish a stable school life. Graeme is the owner of McAlpine-B, a training company whose purpose is to ‘empower staff to empower their clients’.