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School refusal and distance education eligibility

Discussion forum for parents in Australia

School refusal and distance education eligibility


School refusal and distance education eligibility

I am new to these forums and at my wits end. My 15 year old son has refused to go to school for the last two terms and his attendance is extremely poor. He says that he has anxiety attacks in class and he can’t physically sit there, and finds it hard to breathe. I have met with his co ordinators who offered little support, and my son has asked to try a different school next year. I have applied to another school but haven’t heard back from them and his current school said they have every intention of telling this other school about his refusal to attend. My son has met with a psychologist who said that he won’t open up so there is nothing she can do. Even his GP laughed it off and said he will grow out of it!

I feel like no one will help me, but I’m legally responsible if he won’t go? I can’t make him go, no matter how hard I try. 

I would like to enrol him in distance education as I think he would do better with this form of learning, but apparently he needs to have a diagnosed social disorder and proof of ongoing care. He won’t see a counsellor so he doesn’t qualify. 

I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m screaming and no one can hear me. 


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Re: School refusal and distance education eligibility

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Hey @8isenough 


I can see how this is such a stressful situation for you. School refusal can be a really hard on parents as well as the affected child/teen. It's great that you have taken your son to see a psychologist, GP, and have considered multiple options including home schooling. It sounds like you have done your research and will do everything in your power to assist your son, which is a great start. 


Have you tried asking your son what's making him anxious in class? 


Also, you said the psychologist said your son won't open up. If you don't mind me asking, how many times did he see this psychologist? It might take him a few sessions to open up. Also, it might be an idea to attend a therapy session with him - maybe your support might help him open up. 


If you're from Australia - a good, free resource for parents in your situation is ParentLine. ParentLine offer confidential and anonymous counselling and support on parenting issues. Their number depends on what state you're calling from - see the following link and scroll down for a set of the numbers per state. 


It might also be useful to learn about school refusal and why it occurs. We have a few threads on school refusal that may be of interest to you - one here which has been written by a Child and Family professional, and another here. Headspace have some useful information on understanding school refusal here. It might be worth giving these articles a read. 


Wishing you all the best Heart

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: School refusal and distance education eligibility



Your situation sounds so very familiar to me.   The good news is that with time and the right support your son can work through the issues.


If you don't mind I will share my story to share what can happen.



My partner and I have gone through a very similar situation with her daughter.

Her daughter felt bullied and picked on at her school in year 9 and started missing school regularly.  They engaged with head space and a private physiologist. 


After many discussions and attempts to resolve the issue, the following year my partner enrolled her in a different school in the area.    The new school did not help.  Her daughter continued to have poor attendance and performance.


Her GP provided a referral to a child psychiatrists who formal diagnosed mental health conditions.

With this diagnoses we were able to enroll the Daughter in Distance learning which involved online computer lessons and assignments.


2 years later, the daughter is enrolled in her last 2 year 12 subjects next year and works 80% FTE at an investment firm and is in a stable happy long term relationship.


I know not all situations turn out so well but with love  and support hopefully you can help your son moving forward.




Re: School refusal and distance education eligibility

Self-directed education could be a good option. There are many free resources available online including OpenUni, TAFE online and Lynda (free through the QLD state library, not sure about other states). High school is excessively stressful and there are ways to get a high school certificate or get into University later in life if he chooses to. For now it sounds like a bit of space to recover and discover personal interests could be good. If he still decides he wants to learn with others have a look for a teen homeschooling co-op or a self-directed learning centre. There are also plenty of really helpful Facebook groups about homeschooling and distance education.