NFIS 2018-10-28T23:18:12+00:00


Not Fine in School has been created in reaction to the growing number of children who are struggling to attend mainstream school. Whether their struggle is due to anxiety, unmet Special Educational Needs, physical illness, bullying or academic pressure, many children are experiencing increasing difficulties within education systems in the UK, and other countries around the world.

We are parents and professionals working in partnership to raise awareness of school attendance difficulties.


School refusal is now a very real issue for children and their families.
– We want to help them.

We strongly believe that school should inspire children and promote their wellbeing and happiness.
– We want things to change.


We aim to promote policies and practices that allow parents and professionals to work together. This is vital to ensure the individual needs of children and young people are recognised and met within suitable educational environments.


The name ‘Not Fine in School’ relates to the phrase professionals often use when describing children and young people who are struggling to attend – that they are ‘fine when they are in school‘. Families find this is not always the case as children and young people learn to ‘mask’ or suppress their true feelings until they are home.

An increasing number of children are not ‘fine in school’. Some struggle to attend regularly; some struggle to attend at all. These children and young people are often referred to as school refusers or school phobic. They want to attend school, but for a variety of reasons they just can’t. It doesn’t help that many schools regularly describe these children as ‘fine in school’, as some may hide their difficulties, hold them inside until they get home, or simply refuse to attend unless they feel well enough to cope. It is difficult to know exactly how many children are affected, as different reasons for non-attendance are not recorded in official records. Many families feel they have no choice but to remove their children from school rolls, either for their child’s welfare, or to overcome legal issues surrounding attendance, and they have to opt to home educate instead.

Read More


Here are some current petitions, surveys and group actions that we are keen to support and promote – please help and support them too

NFIS petition
Sign our Petition calling for a New Independent Complaints & Monitoring Body for Schools & Local Authorities
Read more about our petition

Support SEND Family Action’s Crowdfunding


Sign Nadia’s Additional Needs Support petition

Stop School Cuts

Sign National Education Union’s Anti-School Cuts letter

EHE petition

Sign this Home Education petition

Young Minds petition

Sign Young Minds petition


NFIS Guide For Parents
NFIS Parents Guide (Summary)
NFIS Guide For Schools
NFIS Schools Guide (Summary)
Parent full guide
NFIS Parents Guide (Full)
NFIS schools guide full
NFIS Schools Guide (Full)
NFIS Survey Summary
NFIS Survey Summary
NFIS Survey Report
NFIS Survey Report
NFIS Letter to Friends & Family
NFIS Letter to Friends & Family
NFIS Pick n Mix Template Letter
NFIS Pick’n’Mix Template Letter
Absence letter
NFIS School Absence Authorisation
NFIS Considering HE
NFIS Considering Home Education
NFIS School support
NFIS Effective School Support Strategies
Help in Schools
NFIS Getting Help in School
Anxiety & School Refusal
NFIS Anxiety & School Phobia/Refusal
Red Balloon
Red Balloon of the Air: NFIS questions
NFIS Snow Closure Days Letter
NFIS Is My Child Really Fine in School?
Children & Families Act, 2014; Equality Act, 2010; SEN Code of Practice, 2015; The Education Act, 1996; Education for children with health needs who cannot attend school (DfE) ; Mental health and behaviour in schools: Departmental advice for school staff: March 2015 (DfE); Special educational needs and disability: A guide for schools and alternative provision settings; Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions: September 2014 (DfE); Technical Guidance for Schools in England (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2013); Anxiety UK – Young People and Anxiety; Royal College of Psychiatrists – Mental Health & Growing Up; Measuring and monitoring children and young people’s mental wellbeing: A toolkit for schools and colleges (PHE, 2016); School Attendance (registers and codes) (DfE).


  • Connect with families and professionals
  • Discuss triggers and influences
  • Share guidance and resources


  • Campaign and raise awareness
  • Highlight child and family perspectives
  • Change thinking and practices


  • Read relevant research and literature
  • Participate in research projects
  • Support for related studies



Is My Child Really ‘Fine’ In School?

Increasingly parents of children who struggle at school with SEND, health problems, or bullying are reporting that their children are described as being ‘fine [...]

Protocol for Professionals

By Jenny Murphy (NFIS member) The following is a ‘Protocol for Professionals’ when working with children and parents. It is not intended to offend [...]

NFIS Accountability Petition & Survey

Not Fine in School have heard numerous stories about the difficulties that families have accessing appropriate support for children in school. Often, these difficulties [...]

Next Steps for School Attendance Difficulties

On May 8th 2018 I attended a Westminster Education Forum seminar where the topic of discussion was: ‘Next steps for child mental health in England [...]


Beth Bodycote

I am mum to two awesome young men who both struggled in differing ways with the school environment. I became involved in school refusal in 2008 when my eldest son transferred from primary school (where he hardly missed a day) to secondary school (where he coped for less than five days). He completed his secondary education with an online school. We spent 6 years trying to understand what had gone wrong and why – involving repeated visits to CAMHS and lengthy waiting lists, frustrations and delays. Eventually, he was diagnosed and accepted help to go to college and university.

During this time, I got involved with online support groups where I discovered we were not alone and there are lots of other families in the same situation. This inspired me to study for an Education Studies degree, then an MA, and I recently started a PhD to research family experiences of school refusal.

I have worked as an Ofsted Registered Childminder and a Teaching Assistant. I have completed training courses in Montessori Teaching; Learning Support (OU); Autism Awareness (OU); Youth Mental Health First Aid; & IPSEA Foundation Knowledge.

Louise Parker Engels

I have three lovely boys- B. (17), L.(13) and L.( 8) each interesting  kind, intelligent and  quirky in their own way – according to a teacher at their former tiny village primary school.  For various reasons they each struggle with school though, so I am happy to be working with Beth and the team  at ‘Not fine in School: Action for School Refusal and Attendance Difficulties’. I try to fit my freelance writing and voluntary work around my boys as they need my support.

A bit more about me


  • BA (Hons) Government and Politics and Sociology – University of Kent at Canterbury
  • PGCE Leicester University School of Education

Current projects:

  • Special interest in School Refusal, Children with Medical conditions and SEN within Mainstream Schools, and Home Ed
  • Member of the Not Fine in School Management Team

Previous work experience:

  • Primary School Teacher – Senior management team, Early Years · Geography and History coordinator
  • Playworker and Youth worker · Press officer Humanitarian Aid Project Manager
  • HomeStart South Leicestershire management committee member

I love to horse ride, swim, and be near the sea, but don’t actually manage to do as much of that as I would like.

Bec Jasper

Mum of three with considerable experience of School based anxiety/refusal.

A trained MHFA Youth Instructor and passionate about reducing stigma and sharing information with those caring for and working with young people.

Also a founder of PACT (supporting parents of children with mental health issues).

Sarah Lyst

I am first and foremost a mum to 2 children. They are both autistic and have anxiety and depression. They have also both experienced school refusal/phobia/anxiety.

My relevant professional skills and experience:

  • A qualified psychotherapeutic counsellor
  • 2nd year psychology degree student
  • TA in a special school
  • Voluntary counselling experience with young people, some who had SEN
  • Helped to launch a national campaign about autism, including writing articles and doing local radio and TV interviews
  • Voluntary work setting up a local resource library for autistic children and their families

The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Not Fine in School and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

© Not Fine in School 2018. All rights reserved.