Helping children and young people return to school

4 September 2023

Children and young people are struggling with social, emotional and mental health issues like never before. For some children, the summer holidays will have made these issues worse, and they will be experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety as they return to school. For others it’s the return to school that is the cause of anxiety. It is vital that all children are sufficiently supported at the start of the new academic year so they are ready and able to learn. 

How can you support pupils with their social, emotional and mental health needs?

There are many different reasons why children and young people may be anxious about returning to school. They may be nervous about having different classmates and trying to make friends, or may be struggling with homework or lessons, or even having difficulty building relationships with teachers. For some children, the school environment itself can cause them lots of stress. If this is the case for some pupils, then we recommend setting up nurture groups in your school. 

Nurture groups are a targeted intervention for children and young people with social, emotional, behavioural and/or mental health difficulties. They support pupils to form attachments to caring and supportive adults at school. Nurture groups help pupils to feel safe at school which is one of the Six Principles of Nurture, and can lead to improved behaviour which in turn can help to reduce exclusions. Nurture provision can help to remove the barriers to learning and enable children to overcome challenges so they can succeed at school.

The start of school may be especially challenging for children who are entering a transition year from primary to secondary school. The move to secondary school is one of the biggest shifts in a child’s education. Children will experience a change of classes and teachers, an increase in school size and staff numbers, different teaching styles and a wider curriculum.

To ensure a smooth and successful transition to secondary school, we recommend taking a look at The Transition Tool Box resource by Dr Tina Rae, which includes a wide range of strategies and activities for supporting children through this transition process. Teachers and parents can help by planning a child’s transition, making strong connections and establishing new routines. 

Making the transition from home to school will be harder for children that have social, emotional and behavioural issues. Schools should monitor the social, emotional and mental health needs of all pupils and address them at an early stage. The Boxall Profile® allows teachers to understand a child’s social and emotional competencies, and to plan effective interventions and support activities where needed. 

The Boxall Profile® can generate unique lesson plans tailored to each child’s specific social, emotional and mental health needs which can help educational professionals to support and promote the emotional wellbeing of children and young people. Once the social and developmental targets for each pupil have been met, the pupil can then be reintegrated into their mainstream class. 

By using the Boxall Profile® and implementing a nurturing intervention at the start of the new school year, you can get to the heart of a child’s challenges and support 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 and reduced exclusions. With the right support, children can successfully adjust to their new school or class, build new relationships, learn new skills, and thrive. 

For more information about the benefits of the Boxall Profile® and to purchase a subscription, please visit our Boxall Profile® website