Using the Boxall Profile to assess all pupils in your school

17 October 2017 – Jeni Barnacle (NGN’s Associate Trainer & Consultant)


Many practitioners and teachers believe the Boxall Profile is an assessment tool that should only be used with a few children in a school, usually with the most challenging ones. But you can learn a lot from assessing all your pupils!

Jeni Barnacle used to be a head teacher in a primary school. Today she shares with you their journey towards using Boxall with all their pupils and what they’ve learned from it.

As a head teacher of a primary school, when did you come across the Boxall Profile and how did you start using it?

We first came across Boxall Profiles around spring term 2001 when we were researching solutions / ideas to support so many extreme children in our care. I also got to know about nurture groups and decided to set one up for the autumn term.

St Andrew’s North Pickenham was a very challenging environment when I became head teacher in September 2000 (because of rural deprivation, 55% special needs, 30-40% FSM). Even with all the good practice we were still struggling to reach the majority of children. It was not a safe place to be for adults or children with the majority lacking trust and disengaged. 

Why did you start assessing all the children using the Boxall Profile?

We decided to start a nurture group for the Year2/3 class as they were the most challenging, but we did not use the Boxall at that time.

We then began to assess the nurture children, but because we were still having significant issues in the classrooms (even with two adults and good teaching) we decided to assess the whole school. Admittedly there were only 40 children in the school.

At the end of a really challenging day in the mainstream class we were in a meeting with the class teachers when our SENCO came in and placed the 40 hardcopy BPs on the table in front of us. They were a revelation and explained why we were still having a constant battle with managing behaviours, social and emotional issues. There were only 2/40 children who were competently functioning, with the rest all requiring some form of provision.   

This evidence showed that we needed a whole school nurture approach as we realised that even with our good and outstanding early years approach we still hadn’t addressed their actual needs. The BPs identified clearly those gaps and areas to address first. It was a brave step we took in January 2002.

Between 2002 and 2013 we assessed all the children either annually or termly for the children with identified need sand on entry for transitions.

In what ways does the Boxall Profile support children and staff?

Where should I start? The BP brought so much evidence.

  • Due to the BP the school changed to meet the needs of the children and their families. This wouldn’t have happened without BP as we had only been scratching the surface of the fundamental issues and needed to address their early developmental needs to move them forward to be ready to learn.
  • Every child had an individual folder on our school system which enabled us to track annually their Boxall Profile and then look at in context, ask the question “why?” and then “what can we do about it?”.
  • BP enabled us to identify and support early interventions for Child Protection issues, SEND funding, LAC pupils progress and monitor the impact of foster carers.
  • It identified the strengths and areas of development for individual children but also the whole class and its dynamics.
  • We also encouraged whole staff (through CPD too) to reflect on their practice which helped with planning and informed the school’s development plan for future need.
  • Finally the BP enabled us to evidence the impact to our Nurturing School programme on pupils’ progress beyond the academic which was very useful for LEA audits and Ofsted inspections.

What advice would you give to leadership teams in other schools about using the Boxall Profile?

No school leadership team should be without Boxall Profile Online as an SEMH and developmental tracking tool for all pupils.  It should be an essential part of whole school assessment calendar screening.

 It is a powerful tool for:  

  • Challenging misconceptions / perceptions of individual pupils, classes, staff
  • Using for those children who are not making progress in Maths and English to help identify what their actual needs are
  • Baseline assessment on entry to school at any age
  • Supporting transitions whether at end of year or moving to other schools
  • Developing reflective practitioners
  • Performance management of teaching staff

I only wish we had the online version when I was a head teacher as would have enabled monitoring and evidencing impact of our nurturing approach but also for showing progress of cohorts of pupils.


Interested in assessing all your pupils using the Boxall Profile? We are currently running the Boxall Childhood Project – a pilot project looking at the best practices when assessing all your pupils. Forty schools and education institutions are currently taking part.

Have a look at this short video with two schools sharing their experience of assessing all their pupils. And read about our preliminary findings here!  

If you have any questions, please contact Dr Florence Ruby at