Launching Nurture Portrait 2016/17

Today the Nurture Group Network launched the second edition of the Nurture Portrait, providing a snapshot of the social emotional and behavioural difficulties experienced by children and young people in the UK. 


31 January 2018 


The Nurture Portrait was launched today at an event hosted by Derek Twigg MP in Parliament. This is the second edition of NGN's annual portrayal of the social emotional and behavioural difficulties experienced by children and young people in schools across the UK.  

The full report can be accessed here

Every year, we compile anonymised Boxall Profiles completed by teachers and schools in the UK using the Boxall Profile Online. This year, more than 29,000 children and young people were assessed, a x6 increase compared to last year's numbers. Many schools adopt a targeted approach (measuring only pupils with clear difficulties) rather than measuring all pupils and this tendency is reflected in the way the Boxall Profile Online is currently used. As a consequence, the full sample is not representative of the UK pupil population. 

To have a better understanding of the social emotional wellbeing of the UK pupil population, in February 2017 we launched the Boxall Childhood Project. 40 schools across Barking & Dagenham, Halton and Wigan were trained to use the Boxall Profile, and started assessing all their children’s wellbeing during summer term 2017. 

This year's Nurture Portrait focuses on the findings obtained from the Boxall Childhood Project and are based on data from more than 5,400 children. We found that 1 in 6 children had high levels of social and emotional difficulties (17%), and  1 in 5 children had high levels of behavioural difficulties (21%, see Figure 1). 

Many teachers who assessed their whole-class reported that the exercise was very beneficial for both their children and for themselves. It allowed them to highlight all children requiring support, even those nobody had picked up before. It also helped them identify whole-class dynamics that were impacting on the performance and wellbeing of all children. 

Figure 1. Findings from the Boxall Childhood Project show that 1 in 6 children experience high levels of social emotional difficulties, and 1 in 5 experience high levels of behavioural difficulties. These results were obtained from 5,414 children assessed using the Boxall Profile during summer term 2017. 


Kevin Kibble, Chief Executive of NGN said:

Our first recommendation from Nurture Portrait is for schools to measure the social emotional wellbeing of all their pupils.

“This research shows that we need a step change in efforts to support the social, emotional and behavioural wellbeing of children, especially in early years and primary schools. Early identification is key and allows teachers and schools to respond to pupils’ needs before they escalate and develop into more complex behavioural or mental health difficulties.  That’s why we are calling for schools to assess the social emotional and behavioural needs of all their pupils in order to provide appropriate support to all children who need it. This will lead to improved academic attainment, behaviour, attendance and reduced exclusions.”

Over the following days, we will be sharing with you more findings and recommendations from the Nurture Portrait 2016/17.


To learn more about the research behind the Nurture Portrait, please contact Dr Florence Ruby at

1. Marshall, L., Wishart, R., Dunatchik, A., & Smith, N. (2017). Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges. Department of Education.