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

24 July 2023

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.