Nick, 7, is a typical case. His GP concluded that Nick’s stomach pains and leg paralysis had no medical basis. 
He was then referred to a psychologist because his parents had continual difficulty getting him to school.

Recent events such as the floods and bushfires also can contribute to a child feeling that something horrible will happen if they are separated from their parents.
School refusal affects children aged from 5 to 17 years. 
Children who are considered to be “school refusers” are either completely absent from school, attend for only part of the day, go to school following tantrums, or are distressed at school leading to requests for future non-attendance.
School refusal is a significant issue because attendance at school is mandated by law. 
Refusal to attend can affect the child and his family in a number of ways including family conflict, academic problems, little social contact, anxiety, depression, and delinquency.
The problem of school refusal can occur at any age but peaks at times of transitions to new schools.

Tips for Parents of School Refusers

Parents can support their children in this situation by reassuring them that it is normal to have worries or scary feelings about going to school, especially when it is a new school. 
When dropping off children at school it is important for parents not to prolong their departure or come back several times. Don’t sneak out of the room. 
When leaving give a quick kiss and hug and cheerfully say goodbye. 
If the child does stay at home, do not make it an extra fun, gratifying day.

Recent Research

Tolin, D et al (2009) Intensive (daily) behavior therapy for school refusal: A multiple baseline case series. Cognitive and Behaviour Practice, 16(3), 322-344.

The following research paper used a case series approach to examine school refusal behavior in 4 male adolescents. School refusal symptom presentation was ascertained utilizing a functional analysis from the School Refusal Assessment Scale (Kearney, 2002). For the majority of cases, treatment was conducted within a 15-session intensive format over a 3-week period. Treatment elements included cognitive-behavioral therapy with the adolescent, parent training sessions, or a combination of these strategies. Treatment was effective for 3 of 4 cases in the short term. At 3-year follow-up, all 3 of the acute treatment responders had switched to alternative educational programs, although parents rated them as significantly improved and less impaired compared to pretreatment. Obstacles to treatment, and recommendations for program improvement, are discussed.  I note that the use of an intensive program was helpful.