Skip to main content

My child, the school refuser

By 12/09/2023April 3rd, 2024No Comments

Cheryl, a member of the Educake team, shares her personal experience of having a child who refused to go to school, and how she feels strongly that platforms like Educake can help.

If anyone had asked me how I would deal with my child refusing to go to school, I would have said I would make her. She’s the child, and I’m the parent. I’d drag her in kicking and screaming if I had to.

My daughter didn’t kick and scream but was instead filled with anxiety. Trying to get out the door every morning was a battle. I felt like a failure as a parent.

Each year it just got worse. If I made her go in, she would hide in the toilets or go to the school nurse. Then she picked all her eyebrows and eyelashes out – it’s where the saying comes from, ‘I was pulling my hair out,’ when people talk about being stressed. It really is a thing! I’d never heard of it, but it’s called trichotillomania. I tried talking to her, and I took her to see a doctor. I’d never felt so low in my life.

I paid for an educational psychologist and counselling, and I read dozens of books for parents of anxious children. I regularly met with the school, and she was placed under the SEN to help.

The school agreed that a reduced timetable would be best for the short term. It started out well enough, but then I found out she had been too anxious to go to science or English, and there we were again: now in year ten, fearing she wouldn’t be able to sit her exams.

The problem of her missing lessons was made worse, as there were often no slides or content to send home. I understood that providing this would have been additional work for teachers, taking up time they already didn’t have.

The school had no easy way to assign work for her. She needed to know what they were learning in lessons, and I could only provide limited help. Online homework platforms like Educake can help with all of this. It would have helped her learn independently, helped her school allocate work, and helped me support her.

Going through this as a parent, I discovered that nobody really knows what to do for these kids who can’t attend school for one reason or another. It’s so hard to fill the gaps and make sure that learning can still happen at home. I wish we’d had Educake to help us.

The good news is she passed the Maths and English GCSEs that she needed to become a nurse cadet apprentice with the NHS, and she is now a nurse associate hoping to become a qualified nurse.

School might not be suitable for everyone, but learning is. I truly believe that Educake offers teachers and parents an effective way to support school refusers.

There were nearly 2 million persistent absentees (21.8%) in England during 2023/24- That’s HUGE!

View the government statistics.


If you are a teacher or a parent of a school refuser we’d be happy to talk to you about how Educake can help. You can contact me or the team at

Cheryl joined the Educake team to help coordinate upcoming events. With over 20 years of experience with educational events, Cheryl has a passion for education…. and cake!