Children aren't able to attend school, it's often due to extreme anxiety or phobia. This is sometimes known as 'school refusal'. The term 'school refusal' makes it seem like the child has a choice, however the anxiety is usually so severe it's impossible for them to face it.
Why is my child refusing to go to school?
These anxieties can stem from a number of things such as:
- Mental health issues such as anxiety - in particular separation anxiety.
- Low self-esteem
- The environment itself
- Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
School refusal can happen at any stage, however mostly occurs when children start school or transition into secondary school.
What can I do to help?
There are plenty of options available to help you if you think your child might be experiencing school refusal.
Speak to your school
- Talk to a teacher or the mental health lead at school and work with them around the issue. It's important to maintain a good relationship with them during this time. They can help agree on things the school can do such as arranging flexible start times to avoid the morning rush.
- If you have concerns about bullying, speak to the school about their anti-bullying policy.
- Speak to your school and ask them to assess your child if you think there may be an unidentified SEND need causing the anxiety.
- You'll need to work with the school to help your child - particularly with any support plans they put in place.
Find help online
- Healthy Young Minds in Herts have advice on what to do if you're worried as well as tips for talking to children and young people about their anxiety and mental health.
- The NHS list a number of mental health apps which you can try with your child at home. These can help them learn to cope with their anxiety in a more positive way.
- MindEd provides free educational resources for parents and carers who might be worried about the mental health of their child.
- Young Minds have a dedicated section for parents which includes a parent helpline as well as expert tips and advice.
- Family lives offer parenting and family support with a helpline and online forum.
- No Panic offers information and advice on childrens anxieties, school phobia and treatment for overcoming school phobia.
- KOOTH offers free, safe and anonymous online mental health support and counselling for young people.
- Just Talk Herts is a campaign run by multiple agencies in Hertfordshire that is encouraging young people to talk about their mental health. They have lots of useful resources for young people and schools too.
Look for schools in Hertfordshire which have the mental health and emotional wellbeing kite mark.
This symbol means they are committed to supporting the emotional wellbeing of their students.
Who can support me?
You should start by speaking to your GP. They might be able to refer you to services such as CAMHS or PALMS.
Mental health services
CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health services) works with children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional wellbeing or mental health difficulties.
PALMS (Positive behaviour, Autism, Learning Disability and Mental health Service) helps children and young people aged 0-19 who have a learning disability and/or Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Education Welfare Officers
Education Welfare Officers (EWO) meet with both parents and pupils in order to try and reduce unnecessary absence and remind parents of their legal responsibilities.
It's natural to be concerned if your case gets referred to an EWO, however they can work in partnership with you and the school. They can make suggestions like having you stay with your child until they've settled in class.
Schools will usually make a referral to the attendance team if attendance is below 90% and the majority of absences are unauthorised. However you can contact them for support too.
The Education Support for Medical Absence (ESMA) team support pupils who have had, or are expecting to have, significant time off school due to a physical or mental health condition. Their aim is to help children continue their education around their needs and work towards getting them back into school life.
Educational Psychologists provide support to schools to help them meet the needs of children and young people. This can be through both school wide advice or concerns about an individual. Although they work directly with schools and settings, they also have a Contac tline specifically for parents.
Independent organisations who can help
Provide impartial and confidential information, advice and support to parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
NFIS aims to support children and their families struggling with school attendance, and raise awareness of their experiences.
Hertfordshire based support and advice for parents, carers and kids from the NHS
Hertfordshire based support and advice for teens from the NHS
Attendance at School
When your child is sick
Short Term Absences:
When your child is ill, please contact the school office on 01582 626727 or email email@example.com
- When your child has vomited or has had diarrhoea, we follow the Guidance for Schools on Infection Control (click button above) and ask that you keep your child off school for 48 hours. Over 70% of our pupils have complex medical conditions, and many of these have serious implications when battling virus or bacterial infections. By reducing the likelihood of children catching viruses and infections, they are more likely to keep healthy.
Longer Term Absences:
Please contact the school to let us know about your child's circumstances and information relating to this. We sometimes need to let other parents/carers know about illnesses to prevent the spread of viruses and bacterial infections in the school. Where children are away from school for several days, and they are able to access work, we will provide this for the parent/carer to continue learning. Where a child is absent from school for a longer period of time, we work with ESTMA to support learning at home or in hospital.
Expectations of School Attendance
- You must make sure your child gets an education that meets their needs (for example if they have special educational needs). You can send your child to school or educate them yourself. Children must get an education between the school term after their 5th birthday and the last Friday in June in the school year they turn 16.
- At St Luke's School we expect all pupils and staff to be in school each day of the academic year with 100% punctuality whenever possible.
- Pupils are in school for 38 weeks of the year: 190 days with 175 days (weekends and holidays) not in school.
- We ask that precautions / plans are in place to reduce the likelihood of absence, though when unavoidable, the school is notified at the earliest possible opportunity on 01582 626727
- We recognise many of our pupils have complex medical needs that require visits to specialists in London and further afield. Preparation for these visits and the travel time, often mean pupils cannot make school on such days.
- Schools are statutorily required to take a register of pupils' attendance.
- There are two points in the school day, this is taken - am and pm, creating two school sessions.
- 9.00am is the start of the school day and the register is taken before 8.50am.
- Afternoon Registration takes place between 12.00pm and 1pm
- When a pupil arrives between 9.10am and 9.40am, this is classed as a late.
- When a pupil arrives between 9.40am and 1.00pm, this is classed as an absence.
Authorisation of Absences
- The Head of School authorises absences, where there are legitimate reasons. Where not, these are classed as unauthorized absences.
Attendance Improvement Officer (AI0)
- The AIO reviews absences and lateness with the school on a monthly basis. Where the school has been unable to improve attendances, they can address matters further. This could lead to a court hearing and possible financial fine for families who do not support their child accessing school, where they could.
The school may:
- Authorise the absence; authorisation of the absence is at the discretion of the Head of School or Executive Headteacher..
- Invite you in to discuss the situation if absences persist.
- Inform you by letter if persistent absenteeism is a concern; all below 85% attendance will receive a letter each half-term; attendance figures to accompany reports.
- Refer the matter to the Attendance Improvement Officer if attendance moves below 85%.
- Support a long term absentee with gradual integration and support from school.
- Where a pupil has 21 sessions marked as an unauthorised absence in one school term, a referral will be made to the school Attendance Improvement Officer (AIO). (Mornings and afternoons are counted as individual sessions)
Ensuring Our Pupils are Safe when Absent from School
If your child is unexpectedly absent, school reception will:
- Telephone the primary contact number on the first day of absence if we have not heard from you by 9:30am, to ascertain the reason for absence. (It is therefore important that telephone numbers are constantly updated with the school as soon as there is a change of number and that more than one is provided).
- Telephone the primary contact number again on the morning of the second continuous day of absence if we have not heard from you by 9:30am, to ascertain the reason for absence.
- The Head of School will be notified.
- Telephone all contact numbers provided on the afternoon of the second continuous day of absence to ascertain the reason for absence.
- If we have not heard from you or been able to get in touch on the third continuous day of absence a member of staff will make a home visit to ensure the wellbeing of the child and parents/carers.
- If we are still not able to verify the welfare of the child or parent/carer the school will immediately notify CHILDREN’S SERVICES and/ or Community Police links. This is to ensure the welfare of the child absent is known about and raise an alarm to ensure their safety.
Holidays in Term Time
We would ask that parents and carers avoid taking their child out of school during term time. We do however, understand particular circumstances where this is unavoidable. In such cases, please complete the form below and email/ send in to the school office for the Headteacher to review and make a decision as to whether this would be authorised or, an unauthorised absence:
Your child’s school can ask you for a voluntary contribution to the cost of activities like school trips. They can’t stop your child from attending if you don’t pay, but they should cancel the activity if there isn’t enough money to cover the cost of it.
After School ClubsTBC
Telephone: 01582 626727
Arbor is an online portal that allows parents to communicate with the school, give consent, make payments and keep all their details up to date.
Change of personal details ?
You can update all your details including changes of address, names and phone numbers through the Arbor App.
All correspondence is now done via email through the Arbor App.
All payments including lunches, trips, can be made through the Arbor App.
There are times when we need to obtain your consent (for trips etc). This can all be done on the Arbor App
For more information about Arbor please contact the school.
Class Dojo allows you to communicate with your child's teacher directly and enables the teacher to update you with some of the work your child is currently undertaking in class. It is available as an App through the usual channels.
Please note: Teachers are only available between the hours of 8am - 4pm Monday - Friday.
EHCP Termly Progress Review Days
(Previously called Tutorial Days)
Once a year parents /carers have the opportunity to discuss the targets of their child's Educational Healthcare Plan (EHCP). This will be with our EHCP coordinator with the prior input of their teacher.
EHCP plans cover:
- Communication and Interaction.
- Cognition and Learning.
- Social Emotional and Mental Health.
- Sensory, Motor and Physical Needs.
- Independence and Community.
Further to this we offer parents / carers the chance to come in and speak to their child's tutor about their progress during each term of the academic year.
During each review close attention will be paid to your child's learning and personal development targets, their strengths, where they can improve, their behaviour and on how well they (and we) are meeting the outcomes set out in their EHCP.
One day each term is set aside for this and on this day the school is closed to allow teachers the time to see all parents /carers and children.
EHCP Annual Reviews
EHCP Annual Reviews are yearly meetings to discuss the progress of your child, their medical and social needs and to review the EHCP Outcomes.
At St Luke's School, this is organised by: Mrs Rosemary Baker
We arrange our EHCP Annual Reviews in a particular way:
e-Safety for Pupils
Protecting your child in school
The internet and especially the world wide web, are essential parts of modern life which can enrich lives and empower children and families when used in a safe and secure environment. There are ever more ways to access this world using computers, tablets, phones, games consoles, TVs, watches... the list gets longer each year. With this access comes an element of risk, and a responsibility for adults to protect and educate children to use the technology safely.
At St Luke's we use the Hertfordshire Internet and Connectivity Service (HICS) Filtered Web Service who provide us with a firewall to protect the children from harmful content.
Mobile Phones & SMART Watches
At St Luke's we understand that the majority of children will at some point own a mobile phone, some children also have a SMART watch that can access the internet. Whilst we are more than happy for them to be used on the journey to and from school we have a policy of collecting devices as children arrive. They are then stored in a locked room until they are distributed at the end of the day. For more information about our mobile phone policy please see below.
We do however allow children to use mobile phones and SMART watches when accessing Travel Training. Your child's class teacher will inform you when this forms part of the curriculum.
For more information on e-safety and how to protect your child online please click on the following links:
Medicines in School
There are times when it is necessary to administer medicines during school hours either occasionally or on a regular basis.
We are able to do this but all medicines must be prescribed by a doctor or health professional and in its original packaging.
If you child requires medication during school hours please download the Medicine Consent Form below and return it to the school office.
Music Lessons - Peripatetic Lessons by Herts Music
Music can soothe, excite, stimulate or calm. It can satisfy creativity through composition and performance. It can enrich the understanding of other nations through the study of cultural variety of music styles and instruments.
In addition music brings together intellect and feeling and enables personal expression, reflection and emotional development allowing children to develop creativity at their own pace.
We are fortunate to be able to offer music lessons through the Hertfordshire Music Service. They offer lessons in keyboard, drums, guitar, singing and ukulele.
Prices are - £154 per term - for 11 lessons (20 minute lessons)
Depending on your child's circumstances, you may be entitled to funding by the local authority.
If you would like your child to learn an instrument please contact us. There is currently a waiting list.
PTA - Friends of St Luke's Parent/Teacher Association
Friends of St Luke’s (FOSL)
FoSL is a great way of getting to know other families and staff whilst making a real contribution to the quality of school life for all.
Whilst fundraising is a major part of the job FOSL provides a great way to build the whole school community, including links with wider society all of which benefits the school and offers a positive influence within the local area.
If you would like to be more active in the life of your child’s school please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a bit of information from our outgoing chair, Mrs Julie Spicer Thornton
‘I have been Chair for 6 years, since my daughter started at St Luke's in Year 6, she has now left and moved on to college.
The PTA have raised much needed funds for St Luke's and funded some fantastic projects for our children such as the sensory garden, marking out the playground, new playground equipment and Platform 9 3/4
It has been great fun for parents and carers to attend events such as film nights, quizzes, Family bingo, sponsored Easter Egg hunt, the Summer BBQ and rounders event, and not forgetting the Christmas Fair, where the queues at the Tombola stall revival those of the Harrods sale!
Parents and carers have raised money through the Bags2schools initiative, by having a good clear out and raising money for St Luke’s at the same time.
I have now formally stood down from my role as Chair and we desperately need someone to come forward to take over, the fate of FOSLR is in your hands, so don't be shy’
School Hours - the Day
- Arrival and Registration: 9am
- Break: 15 mins 10.30-10.45am
- Lower School Lunch: 30 mins 12.15 - 12.45
- Middle and Upper School Lunch: 40 mins 12.30 - 1.15pm
- Transport: 3pm
Open Mornings for Prospective Pupils' Families
Book on to one of our monthly Open Mornings and tour the school. These start at 9.30am and are for parents, carers and professionals only. We ask that in the first instance you do not bring your child with you.
You will tour the school and be given the opportunity to speak with the Head of School, Mr Jamie Caple and our Transitions Coordinator, Ms Jacqui Roper who will be able to answer any questions you have.
Please check the school calendar for upcoming Open Morning dates.
You are also welcome to attend our whole school Friday assemblies 2.30pm. This is a celebratory assembly with singing, awards and pupils' full participation. It will give you a good sense of the ethos of our school. Its great fun and you don't need to book - just turn up on a Friday afternoon for a 2.30pm start.
Payments for school dinners, clubs, trips etc can be made via Arbor. You can top up your childs school dinner balance and also give your consent for trips etc. Simply download the Arbor app on your phone or device or access it through any laptop or desktop.
Information We Keep on Your Child
Information we keep about your child:
Arbor is our school information management system at St Luke's. You can update the information we hold about your child through accessing the Arbor app:
Information we need to keep about your child is also accessible in this download booklet:
Why a uniform?
Our school uniform exists to support the ethos of the school and help parents and children with regard to differentiating between school and out of school clothing. Our pupils tell us they like having a uniform. There are choices and optional aspects with the uniform that we have found can support individual children and families - such as a child's clothing preferences and costs.
Non-gender bias uniform
Our school uniform is non-gender bias, meaning boys and girls can wear any aspect of the uniform identified below, such as dresses, skirts or trousers.
Where to buy
Most items can be purchased from supermarkets and general suppliers of clothing and shoes. Branded clothing can be obtained from Peter Spivey (see below).
Our school uniform supplier is :
71 The Marlowes
Hemel Hempstead HP1 1LF
Please label all items of clothing. Lost, named uniform will be returned.
Un-named uniform is provided as second hand uniform for pupils in need.