Parent Peer Support for School Attendance Difficulties

Define Fine is a parent/carer-led organisation set up in response to the growing number of children and young people who experience school attendance difficulties. This is sometimes referred to as ‘school refusal’, or emotionally based school avoidance and may be due to unmet Special Educational Needs & Disabilities including physical or mental illness, either suspected or diagnosed, bullying or issues relating to academic pressure, or even the school environment.

We are also keen raise awareness of attendance difficulties and work with professionals and decision-makers, locally and nationally, to reduce the numbers of children experiencing attendance difficulties, and ensure they are able to access a suitable education.

School attendance difficulties are complex but all too often these children are described as being “fine” when they are in school. Define Fine has produced resources based on relevant government policies and guidance, to help parents and their families to work with professionals to assess and then plan appropriate and timely support.

Please join us as we build our Define Fine parent peer support community

We are here to support and help parents and professionals to find solutions for children and young people who struggle with school attendance difficulties. The sooner we work together to work out why school is so difficult for them, the sooner we can plan a way forward.

Most of our children and young people want to attend school but just can’t. They may have barriers to attendance that need to be acknowledged and understood. Only then can an effective plan can be made.


Before becoming Define Fine: Parent Peer support, we were part of Not Fine in School

Before we became DEFINE FINE we were members of the Not Fine in School management team. We worked together to build a successful private facebook Group of 12 700 members. We co-produced the name, logo and the resources and will include some of the relevant resources which are central to our work in Peer Support.

We co produced the summary guide, based on current, relevant policy and guidance which we encourage parents and professionals to refer to when seeking to understand and find solutions for all school attendance difficulties, right through to complete school avoidance or refusal.

The importance of Parent Peer Support  Support for our families

Unless you have experienced extreme school refusal or attendance difficulites it is hard to understand  the situation.     The whole family  can be  affected both on a practical or emotional level.  One parent may not be able to continue to go to work.    Maybe there are other children who need to get to school by a certain time and are delayed.  It can be really hard  to see a child expressing their distress responses at not coping with school attendance

Some professionals are at a loss to know how to help. They may try to help with advice based on their understanding or opinions. Really plans should be child led, and evidence based approaches. So many of our parents report being referred onto parenting courses, and or to Early help, only to find that the support they are offered aren’t suitable for these kinds of difficulties. Its important to work with professionals and share recommendations for exploring the issues and in making a plan.

As Parents with lived experience we know that one of the most helpful things for us was to know that we were not alone.  Peer Support is vital.  This is why we have formed Define Fine.  We have a new and growing  private facebook group where we are able to share advice and support, and will be soon be launching our peer support training programme , where we will  share  resources to help our parents to advocate for their children with professionals .