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All Saints C.E. Primary School, Horsham

Supporting Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA) through multi-agency working.

The WSCC Intensive Planning Team (IPT) highlighted their recent work with this Horsham Primary School which successfully supported a Key Stage one pupil, who experiencing emotional based school avoidance (EBSA), to reintegrate back into school. IPT co-ordinated and led a team of multi-agency professionals to work with the school and family. The IPT nominated the school for their flexible approach particularly with regards to the way they implemented the advice given by professionals.

Context – The School

All Saints Church of England Primary School is a one form entry school. The school is situated in the market town of Horsham and caters for children aged 4-11 years. The school have a good understanding of the challenges sometimes faced by pupils with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). When a young ASC pupil increasingly presented as an EBSA case, his mother contacted the IPT. They then set up a multi-agency support team and offered their practitioner support. IPT drew together professionals from the Occupational Therapy Service, ASPENS, a local autism based charity, and the WSCC Autism and Social Communication Team (ASCT).

Meeting on a monthly basis, the school team, comprising the SENCO, Class Teacher and two teaching assistants, came together to review progress with the professionals and identify next steps.

Context – The pupil

The pupil at the heart of this case study has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He often presents with avoidant behaviours when he is highly anxious. The pupil is sensitive to unexpected noises outside of his control including hand dryers, lawn mowers and hoovers. This often restricts where he will go when away from his home. He presents as a highly anxious little boy and could often have heightened reactions to the weather particularly if it is likely to rain.

Before the first lockdown in March 2020, the young pupil was attending his reception class for mornings only. The school were supporting him to extend his time as he began to develop his resilience for managing the school environment.

The first lockdown had a significant impact on this pupil. He didn’t leave his house and when the restrictions began to ease, he became highly anxious about spending time apart from his parents.

Good practice explained

It was at an early stage that school and his parents, became concerned about his ability to return to school. School first spoke to the Educational Psychology Service who suggested parents encouraged him to leave the house for short periods by setting small targets with rewards.

By the end of the Summer Term 2020 the school recognised this pupil’s heightened anxiety and his EBSA difficulties. A referral to IPT was made in July which began the engagement with the multi-disciplinary team and the following actions:

  • Support for transition into year one began during the Summer holidays.

– The young pupil was able to visit the school on inset days to meet his new class teacher and see the classroom environment without the sensory and social demands of the rest of his class.

Social stories and visual timetables were put in place to help him understand his new class layout, routines and expectations.

– The local special school gave outreach support and advice including on the use of the visual timetable and setting clear boundaries.

Accessible visuals used for this young pupil’s visual timetable
Pupil’s Now, Next, Then visual and box to post finished visuals in. Linked to his love of Henry the vacuum cleaner.

A sensory assessment was completed by an Occupational Therapist who recommended equipment and strategies. The pupil’s parents began using and implementing these at home. Once he got used to them and was using them consistently, they were successfully introduced in school. The Occupational Therapist was able to advise on the school’s graduated approach to reintegrating the pupil back into the school building and classroom.

A multi-sensory maths activity following OT recommendations

A support worker from the charity ASPENS began working with the family and the network group of professionals.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions they were unable to begin face to face work with the young boy but through video meetings were able to offer advice and support. The highly personalised support that ASPENS offer complimented the person-centred approach of the whole IPT network group.

  • An Advisory Teacher from the WSCC Autism and Social Communication Team (ASCT) joined the team in the Autumn Term. The Advisory Teacher joined the regular review meetings and gave advice on implementing strategies at home and school. School were able to implement the advice and regularly review its impact and next steps with the Advisory Teacher.
  • IPT took the case to a Clinical Psychologist and shared the advice given on supporting the pupil with his anxiety. The advice shared with the network meeting included using motivators, role play and worry monsters.
  • Co-production was a vital focus for each network meeting. School and parents worked closely to put recommendations in place. The impact of this joined up working was soon seen as the pupil began to build up his time in school.

“It is really helpful to have the support of the team over a period of time, as so often issues aren’t seen during on-off visits. Opportunities to put the child at the centre of discussions and access expertise is invaluable.”


The Positive Impact

The impact of the support has been significant. The young pupil is successfully going into school each morning and is engaging with his learning. He continues to build up his time in school and at the time of capturing this case study was staying to eat lunch.  From a starting point of attending for just 45 minutes on two or three days and spending most of this time in an outside area, he now enjoys spending time with his friends in the classroom and at playtimes.

The team recognise that this young boy continues to have challenges in school and often struggles with changes. However, all involved in supporting him are committed to his continuing to support his sensory and social needs and his anxiety.

ASPENS will continue to support the family and hope to offer more face-to-face support as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.  The ASCT will continue to offer advice and support to school.

” We recognise the enormous effort and support that has gone into accommodating XX’s sensory, anxiety and social needs within the school environment. XX has 1-2-1 support in class and the use of social stories, a visual timetable and sensory breaks to support him with transition throughout daily classroom activities. He has gone from refusing school to consistently attending on a part-time basis and is becoming more settled and joining in classroom activities. We are hopeful that with the ongoing support from All Saints school and the WSX teams that we can continue to build on this huge step forward.”


Links to the West Sussex Inclusion Framework

The multi-agency support at All Saints Primary School links to a number of Aspects and Dimensions within the West Sussex Inclusion Framework.

Within Aspect 1: The Environment, Culture and Ethos there are clear links to:

1.1 Inclusive vision, aims, values and philosophies, and the implications for everyday practice

  • Clear inclusive aims and values are evident in the behaviour of staff and children and young people (CYP).
  • Inclusion is understood as an on-going process of increasing participation, achievement and nurture for all.
  • Aims and values reflect that leaders are ambitions for providing high-quality education to all CYP.


  • All adults actively seek opportunities to really understand what life is like for all CYP and are skilled at adapting communication styles to achieve that.
  • The principles of co-production and collaboration are embedded within the life of the school. This results in extensive engagement and participation by the full range of stakeholders. The impact of this collaboration and co-production can be clearly identified within day to day practice.

1.5 Accessibility

  • The school is accessible to all CYP.


  • The school conducts sensory audits of inside and outside of the school to identify potential sensory challenges and how these could be managed.

Within Aspect 2: Leadership there are clear links to:

2.4 Partnership working and collaboration

  • The school enhances its provision and practice for all CYP through building relationships and partnership working and can evidence improved outcomes as a result.
  • Corporate responsibility for all CYP in the locality is evident in practice.
  • The school collaborates with a range of agencies and other schools to develop its capacity to improve outcomes for each CYP.


  • School leaders work with external agencies, including the Local Authority’s Educational Psychology Service and Advisory Teams to review and develop plans for different groups within the school. For example, school (both special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) and designated safeguarding lead (DSL) attends a termly consultation with Early Help to discuss CYP that they are concerned about and identify appropriate support and next steps.  Actions are recorded, reviewed after a suitable timescale and impact evaluated.  Appropriate and relevant information and resources are shared and used across the school to support the child or young person.
  • The school fosters productive and positive relationships with a wide range of other agencies in the local community to improve outcomes for CYP including, where appropriate:
    • Local schools
    • Forums and network Meetings (Behaviour Forum, SENCO Hubs and Networks)
    • School Effectiveness Team
    • Advisory Services and other support services, including Safeguarding in Education and Pupil Entitlement, Autism and Social Communication team / Learning and Behaviour Advisory team
    • Teaching Schools 
    • Hubs e.g. Maths Hub, English Hub, Science Partnership
    • Research Schools
    • Area Inclusion and Improvement Boards (AIIBs)
    • Educational Psychology Service (EPS)
    • The Special Needs and Assessment Team (SENAT)
    • SEND Infomation, Advice and Support (SENDIAS)
    • Ethnic Minority and Travellers Achievement Service (EMTAS)
    • Portage
    • Early Help and Children’s Social Care
    • National Health Service (NHS) and Therapeutic Teams
    • West Sussex Parent Carer Forum (WSPCF)
    • Alternative povision providers
    • Holiday, weekend and after school activity providers e.g. scouting organisations, Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, National Citizenship Service (NCS)
    • National and local support groups and organisations
    • Short break providers
    • Church dioceses and other relevant faith or organisations
    • Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) community groups

Within Aspect 3: Personal Development, Wellbeing and Welfare of Children, Young People and Staff there are clear links to:

3.1 Social and emotional well-being and self-awareness

  • There is an open and supportive atmosphere that promotes self-awareness and allows children and young people (CYP) and staff to reflect on their own emotional needs and triggers.
  • Staff and CYP well-being are promoted and supported allowing them to flourish.
  • CYP are given opportunities to share their feelings and emotions and these are acted upon by the adults within school.
  • The school curriculum is reflective of CYP needs and provides a universal curriculum for all CYP to develop all areas of social and emotional well-being and self-awareness.


  • Staff at all levels understand CYP’s behaviour in context, in terms of communicating or attempting to address unmet needs. Staff understand their role in co-regulating and developing CYP’s capacity to become independent, regulate their emotions and manage their behaviours effectively.
  • The setting has activities that are well organised, structured and planned for. Where possible, advanced warning is given, to both CYP and parent, of any changes to familiar routines in a meaningful and helpful way, particularly to those with neuro diverse needs.

3.3 A safe place to be

  • The school works proactively with all children and young people (CYP) and their parent carers, to explore their experiences around school, their learning and to positively address sensitive areas.


  • The school can provide a range of examples where creative and imaginative learning opportunities have assisted the CYP with SEND, additional needs or from disadvantaged groups to feel safe and achieve well. These CYP are routinely asked what vehicles they find useful in furthering their learning and engagement.
  • There are designated calm, safe spaces within the school and school grounds. These have been identified with and can be used by the CYP to self-regulate when needed.

Within Aspect 4:

Quality of Education there are clear links to:

4.2 Quality first teaching

  • Quality first teaching meets the needs of all children and young people (CYP) with appropriate reasonable adjustments being made for those that need it. E.g. more able, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), Pupil Premium, etc


  • There is a flexible approach, informed by on-going assessment, to the organisation of the teaching and learning environment that promotes co-operative learning.
  • As part of its inclusive culture, the school can demonstrate how universal classroom provision enables CYP with these needs to access learning independently. For example, Dyslexia Friendly, Autism Aware practices.