The Boxall Childhood Project | A whole-school approach to the Boxall Profile®

A female teacher talking to a pupil in a classroom with other pupils in the background

The Boxall Profile® is a unique online tool that assesses the social, emotional and mental development of pupils aged 4-18. We recommend that you use the Boxall Profile® to assess pupils across the whole school, as it gives headteachers and senior management teams a more rounded view of the wellbeing of the children and young people in their care. 

In 2017, we launched a two-year project called the Boxall Childhood Project which looked at the benefits and challenges that schools encountered when completing Boxall Profiles® for the whole school. 

As part of the pilot project, 40 schools in England were recruited and key members of staff were trained to use the Boxall Profile®. These key members of staff delivered training to their colleagues and put in place systems to assess all of their pupils. In total, more than 5,400 children and young people were assessed in Summer 2017 (during the first assessment period).


The data from these assessments showed that in an average primary school classroom, one in three children may have some social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. It also identified the following:

  • 19 children had no apparent needs
  • 7 children had some form of social/emotional or behavioural difficulties
  • 4 children had high levels of needs in both social/emotional and behavioural difficulties (typically, three boys and one girl)

These figures show just how important it is to use the Boxall Profile® across the whole school as it helps schools to identify children and young people who need additional, more focused support through nurturing interventions, or as part of a nurture group

Teacher reports also showed that 43% of children with high levels of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties do not access any form of wellbeing or mental health support – either at school or outside. There could be many reasons why these vulnerable children do not receive the support they need, for example schools may not be aware of the scale of difficulty experienced by these children. 

The Boxall Childhood Project highlighted just how many children are affected by these social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, whilst also raising awareness of the importance of nurture, attachment and neuroscience, so that teachers can better understand and respond to difficult behaviour and the social, emotional and mental health needs of their pupils.

Our recommendations to schools

We believe the most effective way to support every child with their social, emotional and mental health needs or adverse childhood experiences, and equip teachers with the necessary tools for teaching to meet these needs, is to implement a whole-school nurturing approach. 

That includes support for pupils and staff, working across the curriculum and involving pupils, governors and parents. It means provision for developing the wellbeing and resilience of everyone and targeted support for those who have significant difficulties. This can only happen with senior leadership commitment, staff development and a supportive culture. 

The National Nurturing Schools Programme is a programme that allows staff to develop personally and professionally while embedding a nurturing culture throughout their schools, enhancing teaching and learning, promoting healthy outcomes for children and young people. This is achieved by focusing on emotional needs and development as well as academic learning in a whole-school environment. This involves embedding the Six Principles of Nurture and using the Boxall Profile® across the whole school.

The National Nurturing Schools Programme equips staff with the tools they need to implement a whole-school approach to supporting the social, emotional, mental health and wellbeing of all pupils and staff, allowing every child to become able to learn.


The tools teachers really need

A female teacher and a girl sitting together looking at a computer screen

Children and young people are dealing with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) issues like never before. In the UK, the need for better support was widely recognised even before the outbreak of Covid-19, but the crisis has deepened. Current cost of living pressures, compounded by the continuing repercussions of the pandemic, mean increased stress and anxiety for many children and families.

Pupils facing SEMH challenges can be withdrawn and isolated, suffering in silence, others display hugely challenging and disruptive behaviour that significantly affects those around them. All are in desperate need of nurture – a different approach to learning that prioritises relationships and wellbeing.

Research has shown that a nurturing approach to education works for all pupils, helping every child to learn. Nurture provides structure and care experiences that may have been missing from a child’s early life. It gets to the heart of a child’s challenges and supports them to build connections and resilience. It is a highly effective way of supporting improved behaviour and increased attendance in schools, leading to better attainment. 

We know that teachers, who are under huge pressures themselves, want the very best for the children in their care. But they must be properly supported and resourced in order to deliver it. Nurture provides them with the proven tools they need to help children thrive.

Embedding a nurturing culture and ethos throughout a school ensures that the SEMH needs of all children are identified and supported – not just those of the pupils who are visibly struggling. This whole-school approach can enhance teaching and learning and benefit the wellbeing of staff as well as pupils. 

Our National Nurturing Schools Programme (NNSP) helps educators develop and apply a whole-school approach. It focuses on pupils’ emotional needs and development alongside their academic learning. Participants are guided by experts with extensive knowledge of nurture and the ways it can best be implemented in different settings. 

We’ve been championing nurture for more than 50 years, and we know it works. We are urging schools and teachers to use nurture to support their pupils at this time of intense challenge. Nurture gives children the foundation they need to navigate school and life. It allows all children and young people to be ready and able to learn. 

International Journal of Nurture in Education Volume 8 now published

An open book and a pair of glasses

The latest volume of the International Journal of Nurture in Education has now been published. This issue features papers from across the world, including a study of nurture group implementation in Montreal, and an investigation into the experiences of nurture group educators in Malta.

The journal promotes the most up-to-date research of how nurture principles and practice improve the socio-emotional functioning and academic achievement of children and young people”. In addition to academic researchers in education, psychology and child development, the journal also aims to support nurture practitioners, mainstream teachers, school leaders, educational and clinical psychologists, and local authority officers to help improve the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people.

This volume of the journal features articles that examine the relationship between secondary school nurture groups and whole-school approaches, and explore the reduction in school exclusions and youth violence through nurture practices. It is also the first volume to include a book review from journal editor Tristan Middleton, on ‘Supporting Adolescents & Teenagers with Stress & Anxiety: A practical guide’ by authors Tina Rae, Jody Walshe and Jo Wood.

The journal is now available here. For more information, or to access previous volumes of the journal, please visit the nurtureuk website.