School refusal and isolation: the perspectives of five adolescent school refusers in London, UK

Kljakovic, Moja ORCID logoORCID:, Kelly, Aidan and Richardson, Andrew (2021) School refusal and isolation: the perspectives of five adolescent school refusers in London, UK. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26 (4) . pp. 1089-1101. ISSN 1359-1045 [Article] (doi:10.1177/13591045211025782)

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Research has identified a subset of young people who feel unable to engage in mainstream education. Given the hard-to-reach nature of this group, their views on what has caused their isolation from others have received little focus in previous literature. The present study aimed to explore the experiences and views of a subset of young people seen within an inner London Pupil Referral Unit who were extremely socially withdrawn and unable to attend mainstream education. They were asked what they believe led them to their current situation, the impact of isolation, how their life is going and what they value. Key themes identified were the role of anxiety in withdrawal from education and the protective capacity of social contact, even via social media, in preventing negative outcomes of withdrawal. Sleep, health, education, family and social contact were identified as risk and protective factors and were also things participants identified as values. This research provides insight into potential ways to support young people in returning to mainstream education as well as ideas for preventative measures that may protect future generations from such extreme isolation. This research was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, but lessons learned bear relevance in current times.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Articles, school refusal, adolescence, isolation, social withdrawal, qualitative
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 34179
Notes on copyright: © The Author(s) 2021
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
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Depositing User: Jisc Publications Router
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2021 10:12
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 10:12

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