12. ‘You can’t make me!’: Managing Anxiety Based School Avoidance (ABSA) | 2024

Learn how to support students who find attending school difficult using a variety of psychological theories, practical strategies and resources.

Do you have students who are experiencing Anxiety Based School Avoidance (ABSA)? Are you finding it difficult to support them and help them attend school regularly? We understand that ABSA can manifest in various behaviours such as frequent absences, shortened days, or refusing to attend certain lessons and/or days. Supporting a student with ABSA can be complex and challenging, requiring careful planning, preparation, and collaboration between the teacher, school, student, and home. This course aims to provide you with the knowledge, practical strategies and techniques to understand and effectively support students experiencing ABSA.


Here is a list of the modules in this course, with some of the learning outcomes of each. We also build in School Self Evaluation into all courses, making the SSE Process as smooth as possible:

Module 1: What is Anxiety and ABSA? Participants will:

  • learn about the key psychological theories related to anxiety.
  • explore ABSA as a manifestation of anxiety.
  • Review some of the research and statistics on ABSA and the impact of Covid in the Irish context.

Module 2: Responding to Anxiety and ABSA? Participants will:

  • Learn a variety of strategies and techniques to effectively support a student experiencing anxiety and ASBA.
  • Explore the impact supporting distressed students can have on teachers’ wellbeing.
  • Explore the value of reflective and self-care practices.

Module 3: Taking the first steps Participants will:

  • learn practical strategies to apply in managing more entrenched/longer term school avoidant behaviour.
  • Supporting a student returning to school.
  • explore a range of strategies and activities to create a calm, connected and safe classroom environment to support returning students and maintain attendance.

Module 4: A complex issue. Participants learn:

  • will explore the complexity of reasons a student present with ASBA.
  • be guided in how to respond compassionately and sensitively (within the limitation of the role of teacher) and how to link in with external supports.

Module 5: A whole school approach. Participants:

  • Explore parents’ experiences and how to work with parents and other external supports.
  • Will consider how to implement learning and strategies at a whole school level.

Your Instructor

Susan Quain
Susan Quain

Susan started her career as a Primary School Teacher and spent over 10 years working in a large urban special school, where she simultaneously completed her BSc in Psychology part-time through the Open University. In 2021, Susan changed careers, moving from education to psychology working firstly as an Assistant Psychologist on a HSE Primary Care Psychology Team, where she regularly facilitated groups for children experiencing mental health difficulties and for parents, carers and school staff supporting them. She then worked as an Assistant Psychologists on a specialist service within TUSLA that provide therapeutic interventions for young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour and their families.

Susan completed a Research Masters in 2024 related to the effective delivery of RSE to prevent incidents of inappropriate and/or harmful sexual behaviour by young people with intellectual disabilities. She has also tutored and taught psychology part-time in Mary Immaculate College and in the University of Limerick. Susan will be starting her doctoral training in Clinical Psychology in September 2024.

Course Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Actualise Academy Courses approved by the DES for EPV days?
Yes, all 10 courses are approved for EPV days. The courses (20 hours) carry the entitlement of 3 EPV days for Primary Teachers.
Is there a limit to how many courses can I do for EPV days?
Yes, the DES has imposed a limit of 5 EPV days in any one year. This 5 day entitlement can be reached by doing any 3 of our courses: 1 ONLINE COURSE entitles you to claim 3 EPV DAYS 2 ONLINE COURSES entitles you to claim 4 EPV DAYS 3 ONLINE COURSES entitles you to claim 5 EPV DAYS
How much do the courses cost?
Courses cost €75 for one, €99 for two and €120 for three.
What are the course completion requirements? How much work is involved?
Courses are run online. Courses consist of a total of 20 hours each, with 20 hours of optional material and resources for you. There will be lots of complementary material for you online too. The course is divided into 5 modules x 4 hours each. Each module module breaks down into some hours of online work (lectures etc) and some offline for self-directed learning (e.g. recommended videos, reading, etc.). You can do the course entirely at your own pace, and can even do it on mobile if you are on the move! Assessment of the course is as follows: 1. Each module requires a short reflective piece or activity, asking you to think through how you will apply the material you have just learned to your own learning environment; 2. You must engage with the online forums for each course. Please note: You must must complete assignments for each module before moving to the next module

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