Do you worry about going to school?

You are not on your own.

Sadly, many young people find going to school difficult or even impossible.

Many children and young people worry about school. Worrying or anxiety is a normal feeling that we all experience from time to time.

However, sometimes anxiety or excessive worrying can become a problem especially when it stops us doing what we want or need to do. Like going to school.

It's true that many people just think you are 'choosing' not to be in school rather than understand that for many students it's not 'won't' but 'can't'.


This short film gives a perspective of a young student who is struggling with school...

School is not my enemy (English) from Angst voor de schoolpoort on Vimeo.

What can I do?

If you are finding school tough and feeling like you don't want to be in school

Talk to somebody.

This could be your parents, an adult at school, other family members or a friend. Or a helpine like Childline

A good person to talk to is someone who:

  • will listen to you
  • will believe you / take your worries seriously
  • do something

If you are not sure about asking for help see our top tips

Why does it happen? 

There can be many reasons. Both at school and out of school. For example:

In School

  • Bullying
  • Pressure around grades and exams
  • Changing schools
  • Worrys about tests and exams
  • Not coping with school work
  • Not getting on with some teachers
  • Feeling different from other people 
  • Don't like the noise and the crowds of kids
  • and more... 

Outside of School

  • A parent or a brother or sister who is ill.
  • Members of your family who feel worried or sad
  • Death of someone important to you
  • Parents arguing or splitting up
  • Difficulties getting to school 


What happens when you don’t attend school?

At first it can feel safer and help you feel better if you stay at home... But the longer you stay away it can get harder to go back. When you do go back it's hard in school as you've missed out lessons, friendships and more... So...

What can your school do to help you? 

Find an adult at school you trust and talk to them, they should listen and believe you.

The school will want to support you. They should work with you and your parents to help find out what things are worrying you and what you and they can do to help you.

Things they could do include:

  • Deal with bullying if it is happening to you.
  • Help you settle back in slowly by having a reduced timetable
  • Giving you support to catch up with lessons
  • Recognising you might need to have some time out during the day
  • Have someone you can go to if you're worried or upset

These actions could be written up into a support plan so that you, your parents and school know what actions have been agreed to help support you.

What can I do to get back to school?

It is definitely not just down to you! School, family members, people who support you all have a role. 

But there are a few things that you can do that might help you understand more about your feelings and concerns and some small steps you can take to help you feel better and more ready to get back to school. 

  • learn to recognise your feelings and emotions. 
  • check out feelings like anxiety / worry and see if you are get stuck on just looking for the negatives or letting your worry make things look worse than they are 
  • have a few ways to give your self time to stop, think about things - calming and coping strategies like breathing are a great idea

When you are ready, check out the things that are worrying you. Is it something practical that you might be able to do something about or is it one of those pesky 'what if...?' worries which are often about imagining disastrous things happening... 

Check out worries and how to deal with them with our very own "Worry Walt"



Getting help

There is support out there and people / organisations to help find the best way to help you. 

First of all school will really want to help you (they really want you to be in school).

Your school nurse can be a good person to talk to

There are people in the council as part of the Education Welfare Team who can help support you


There are groups that can offer advice / information and support to you and your family - often because they have expereince (as parents / young people thmselves) for example:

Not Fine in School - Not Fine in School was created as a resource for families with children experiencing school attendance barriers.