Wavelength - A Cognition Education Group Company

The new face of school refusal in NSW

Wavelength teamed up with the New South Wales Ministry of Health (NSW MOH) to design an award-winning online learning course to help manage cases of school refusal state-wide.


The NSW MOH were looking to develop an online learning solution to upskill School Counsellors and Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) workers/clinicians on school refusal. The solution needed to upskill learners on what school refusal is, the steps involved, and the overall aim of supporting each child to return and integrate into school. The learning needed to drive collaboration between members of a child’s support team and provide relevant, practical information in a meaningful way. Our discovery involved weeks hosting workshops and interviewing Subject Matter Experts in schools working with children who experienced school refusal. This process helped our team to create a comprehensive list of what the needs of our learners were and to help anticipate reception from learners.


We created the module in Articulate Rise, providing an easy user experience and web-based feel. We created graphics to break down some of the clinical information to make it easier to consume and understand. The youthful feel for the module, incorporating bold colours and stills from the opening animation, keeps the focus on helping children experiencing school refusal front of mind.

The module structure follows the steps in the process – identifying, assessment, planning, and collaboration – to help learners clearly understand their role in supporting a child with school refusal, and what’s needed at each stage. We created job aids to support learners to apply their new knowledge on the job, including a back-to-school plan template that can be tailored to any child’s needs.

To engage learners upfront and emphasise the real-life impact of school refusal, we opened the module with an animation centred on a ‘day in the life’ of a child, Zara, experiencing school refusal. Leading with an animation is not only engaging, but creates an emotional connection through storytelling and highlighting how a child with school refusal feels and acts. This brings the impact of supporting children to get back to school to the forefront.


This is an opt-in module and particularly valuable due to increased cases due to COVID-19 disruptions. The volume of interest in attending the launch meant it evolved into a live production where the module was launched to over 200 locations across NSW via a live feed. This included a panel discussion and a showcase of the Zara animation followed by a Q&A session. The MOH also plugged the new module targeted to teachers we’re currently in the Delivery phase for.

We’ve had great feedback from the MOH on the module so far, in particular positive responses to what the client refers to as ‘the Zara animation’ as a memorable, effective component of this learning solution.

We’re extremely proud that this module has been internationally recognised at the LearnX Live! Awards in 2021. This project received a Gold award for Best Learning Design Team, Gold for Best Online Learning Model, and Gold for Best eLearning Widespread Adopter Initiative. This project was recognised for the colourful and engaging graphics alongside the use of storytelling to connect to the learners.