Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Thrive Approach?

Thrive is a specific way of working with all children that helps to develop their social and emotional well-being, enabling them to engage with life and learning. It supports them in becoming more self-assured, capable and adaptable. It can also address any troubled, or troubling, behaviours providing a firm foundation for academic attainment.

It comprises:

• An online assessment and action-planning tool, Thrive-Online

• Training and mentoring for key support staff

• Wider Staff Induction training

• Training across multi-agency teams

The interrelationship between children’s development and learning is critical and central to the Thrive Approach, which identifies and supports the needs of each individual.

What are the principles of Thrive?

There are four guiding principles of the Thrive Approach:

• Every child is a unique person, constantly developing and learning in different ways and at different rates, each with his/her own abilities, talents and potential to be fulfilled.

• Children’s healthy development, emotional well-being and learning are crucially dependent upon, and promoted through, positive relationships.

• Children flourish when they are confident, self-assured, capable and resilient.

• Children thrive in enabling environments, in which their individual development, learning experiences and needs are understood, responded to and supported through strong partnerships with parents/carers.

What are the benefits of Thrive?

• Thrive teaches the understanding of children’s behaviour as communication, improves learning skills and leads to greater attainment.

• It promotes productive learning for all children.

• It creates practical strategies that can be implemented the next day.

• It supports and empowers, providing the confidence and competence to work with challenging and vulnerable children, and with parents and integrated teams.

• It leads to better relationships at home and in school.

• It provides ongoing support through a peer group of fellow trainees, Thrive-Online support tools and continuing professional development.

• The Approach is targeted, rigorous and measured.

Who created and developed Thrive, and why?

The four originators of The Thrive Approach came together in 1994 concerned about the number of children being excluded from schools and learning at an earlier and earlier age. They are: • Jan BanksJulia BirdLynne GerlachRoe Lovelock They drew on their collective expertise in social work, family therapy, counselling and psychotherapy, and education advisory and inspection work in schools, to create an approach that drew on the up-to-date research and best practice.

Who is Thrive aimed at?

Thrive is aimed at any professional working closely with children and young people, including those involved in education, health and social services. It will also be of interest to parents and carers.

What age of children does it work for?

The Thrive Approach can be used effectively from birth to adulthood. Courses available include those aimed at early years, Childhood and Adolescence.

What sort of children does it work for?

Children at all stages of emotional development respond well to, and benefit from, the Thrive Approach.

How is it that all children benefit from Thrive?

Thrive is an approach to working with all children. It is based on neurological evidence which addresses brain development so that all children learn to regulate their emotional responses, develop resilience and manage disappointment and frustration.

All children (and adults!) need a little emotional support when things are going wrong. Thrive provides a way of understanding and addressing the emotional and social development of all children. It pays specific attention to children as and when they experience interruptions to that development whenever and for whatever reason they arise.

What kinds of behaviour does it help with?

The Thrive Approach helps children who are, temporarily or more permanently, restless, withdrawn or underachieving as well as those with attachment issues or challenging and disruptive behaviours. Schools that have introduced Thrive report improved attendance, reduced classroom disruption, better educational attainment and fewer exclusions. Parents report significant improvements in their relationship with their children as well as improved behaviour. The children themselves say they feel better understood and they get more out of school.

Why should I use Thrive?

Because addressing emotional developmental needs early builds resilience, decreases the risk of mental illness, prepares children for school and equips them to be ready and willing to learn. It also helps those children who are at risk of underachieving or exclusion to stay in school and re-engage with life and learning. Many trainees say that the Approach has been life-changing for them too! They report not only the progress of the children, but also significant professional benefits.


What courses are available and for whom?

We have courses for • Families • Adopters and Long Term Foster Carers • Professionals in education, healthcare and social services See our full course list

Where can I get Thrive training?

Thrive courses are delivered in many areas around the country. Find a course near you or please contact the office if you would like to commission an in-house course (where we come to you).

Those who have already undertaken Thrive training can find advice on getting the most out of their training here

How is the training delivered?

Courses are offered on an open access basis (where you come to us) and, for groups of eight or more, in-house (where we come to you).

Courses involve a variety of teaching approaches: lecturing, teacher-led discussions, experiential and collaborative learning, practical workshops, role play, online activities and mentoring.

If you wish to discuss a training package that is tailor-made for your service, school or authority, please contact us at

Who are the Thrive trainers, how are they qualified and what’s their background?

All Thrive trainers are skilled practitioners who have completed the intensive Trainer Course and rigorous follow-on assessment process.

They have diverse backgrounds with experience in a variety of age groups: early years advisors, teachers and head teachers, educational and child psychologists, behaviour support advisors and university lecturers.

How much does it cost?

Introductory training days start from £66 per person for a minimum of 15 people and the full Practitioner Course costs between £1375 and £1585 per person depending on the number of people being trained. Continuing Professional Development days start from as little as £105. (All prices are indicative only and ex VAT). See website for more details.

What is Thrive Online?

An integral part of the Approach, Thrive-Online is an assessment tool and extensive activity-planning resource that helps teachers, parents, social workers, teaching assistants and others working with children to identify the underlying emotional needs that drive their differing and sometimes challenging behaviours.

It supports qualified Thrive practitioners in their work, allowing them to profile the developmental and learning needs of individuals and groups of children, and giving them opportunities to review progress and set plans.

Can I learn Thrive-Online instead of attending a course?

Thrive-Online can be used with little or no training to screen a child or a group of children. The screening results will indicate which of the children in a group are working age appropriately; which are in need of some help; those that would benefit from individual assessment and 1:1 working; those that are in urgent need of help and support.

The in-depth assessment and action planning tool for developing targeted, personalised action plans for individual children is only available to Licensed Practitioners or above.
Single-user and multi-user software licences are available.

Is there someone I can talk to about their experience to help me decide if I want to do a course?

We have many people from a variety of settings around the country who are always delighted to talk about their experiences of Thrive and their Thrive journey. If you would like to contact the office by phone 01392 797 555 or email, we will be able to put you in touch with someone.

What’s the difference between a Member of Thrive and a Licensed Practitioner?

A Licensed Practitioner will have successfully completed the Practitioner course through full attendance and satisfying the licensing criteria.

A Member of Thrive is anyone who has registered interest with us, or has attended some form of wider staff training.

Can I sign up myself, or does the school have to buy into it?

We are happy to take bookings from individuals or organisations. If you are signing up for yourself, as well as the training, you will have to consider the ongoing costs of Thrive-Online.

Usually a school/organisation will purchase a Whole School/Organisation Licence so that all children can benefit. Professional Single-User Licences are available for those with a more peripatetic role and Home Licenses are also available for purchase.

Does Thrive provide Continuing Professional Development?

To help you deepen and extend your practice to better meet children's emotional and social developmental needs, Thrive offers a programme of CPD (continuing professional development). CPD courses are available to Thrive Licensed Practitioners, Action Plan Mentors and Trainers.

By engaging in CPD:

• You will deepen and broaden your knowledge of Thrive

• You will be able to maintain the currency and assured quality standards of your qualification

• Most importantly, you will be better placed to ensure the best possible outcomes for the children in your care


What scientific evidence is Thrive based on?

Thrive draws on a wide range of current theory and the latest research findings in the fields of neuroscience, attachment theory, child development and research into the role of creativity and play in developing emotional resilience.

Where is Thrive currently being used?

To date, over 250,000 children have access to Thrive-Online across just under 1,400 settings in the UK, and more than 1,500 staff have been trained to the level of Licensed Practitioner or above.

The Thrive Approach is currently being used in many schools, early years settings and support services across the UK including Devon, Cornwall, East Sussex, Bristol, Worcestershire, Surrey, Norfolk, Newcastle, Rotherham, Barnsley, Sheffield, Kirklees, Derby, Manchester and Dorset.

Do you have any case studies or testimonials?

Hundreds! Many case studies are used during the training courses, and we have a wide selection of testimonials.


How can I implement Thrive successfully?

To be most effective in a school or organisation, the Thrive Approach needs:

• The commitment of senior management

• At least one, and preferably two or more staff members trained to Licensed Practitioner level or above

• Wider staff introductory training to provide a shared approach to emotional and social development across the organisation

The two most common factors linked to success in schools and other settings are:

• Using the Thrive Approach to supplement and refocus important aspects of what is usually provided

• Ensuring a high level of commitment on the part of those involved, to get the most out of what Thrive offers to benefit both individual children and particular groups and their families There are a number of other factors involved in successful implementation. They include:

• Protecting time assigned to the work • Access to a laptop or school computer for online assessment, developing individual action plans, reviewing cases and monitoring progress

• Dedicated space to support 1:1 working

• Forging stronger partnerships with parents and carers

• Monitoring children’s attainment and progress in other areas

Can I find a mentor to assist me when I start using the Thrive Approach?

You will receive four mentoring sessions during Licensed Practitioner training and your trainer will be able to provide additional advice and guidance if needed. Once you finish training there are a number of places you can go to for help and guidance:

• Your school or learning community may have a Licensed Action Plan Mentor who is trained to support you in the development of effective action plans for the children in your care.

• Thrive forums are available to help you communicate with other delegates on your course as well as other Licensed Practitioners in your region and across the UK.

• Telephone assistance for Licensed Practitioners using Thrive-Online.

• Mentoring sessions offered by Licensed Thrive Trainers in different parts of the country.

How is the impact of Thrive monitored and evaluated?

The impact of the Thrive Approach on individual children is monitored using Thrive-Online. The process of assessment and reassessment shows progress over time.

Similarly, class screening results can be used to monitor changes at the class or group level over time.

Thrive-Online data can be used alongside existing statutory frameworks for the curriculum and assessment. Useful measures include attendance, classroom disruption, exclusions, involvement of external agencies and attainment.

How will we manage all the data we collect from the children we work with?

Whole class screening and individual assessment results are stored within your account on Thrive-Online. Reassessment results are also stored so that you can show progress and distance travelled. This data can be used in conjunction with other statutory data recorded. If you have any particular reporting requirements that would help you, please contact as Thrive-Online reporting tools are being updated and added to over time.

Where can I get help with monitoring and evaluation?

You will be given guidance on monitoring and evaluation during training and you are always welcome to contact the Thrive office to find out more. In addition, new short courses for senior leaders on the strategic use of Thrive data will be available soon.


It’s enough to be kind to children…and we do that already

The Approach is a rigorous scientifically informed approach that is carefully differentiated to address children’s emotional development in a systematic and specific way.

It trains people to identify particular needs that result in behaviours that interrupt learning and to address them with specific targeted interventions.

It asks teachers to become social workers and teaching assistants to become child minders. Children come to school to learn but many are not ready or able to do so. The main aim of Thrive is to support children’s emotional development to ready them for learning.

It’s touchy feely nonsense that detracts from learning which is the real job of schools

If children are in the right place emotionally then they are able to learn. Thrive helps to re-engage those children who, for a variety of reasons, are switched off from learning.

Is Thrive a quick fix?

The beneficial impact of the Thrive Approach may be seen at an early stage with many children, but Thrive should NOT be considered a quick fix. It is a systematic approach to re-engaging those children who, for a variety of reasons, are switched off from learning. It addresses brain development so that children learn to regulate their emotional responses, develop resilience, manage disappointment and frustration and work collaboratively to address skills development.

Isn’t Thrive just about playing?

Positive interactions, enjoyment and shared fun provide an essential climate for the development of neuronal pathways that help a child to manage stress, develop concentration and become resilient.

‘Goodies for baddies’: this approach rewards bad behaviour

When we realise a child has not had the appropriate experiences to learn how to do fractions, we provide additional reparative experiences to address that issue. Thrive is no different. It recognises that behaviour is communication (even if that behaviour is seen as ‘bad behaviour’) and helps adults to identify the gaps in children’s emotional development. Thrive provides the necessary information and skills to address those gaps. Emotional and social learning is essential and intrinsic to academic learning.

The Thrive Approach wants everyone to be doing feather face painting

Face painting is only one of the hundreds of strategies employed by the Thrive trained staff to address emotional needs. Such activities are part of a carefully differentiated programme of action that is systematically reviewed to check progress.

We don’t have children ‘like that’/who need Thrive here

All children (and adults!) need a little emotional support when things are going wrong! Thrive is an approach to working with all children based on neuroscientific research which addresses brain development. It helps all children to learn to regulate their emotional responses, develop resilience and manage disappointment and frustration. Thrive also pays specific attention to children when they experience interruptions to their emotional development whenever and for whatever reasons they arise.

There is no point if the child returns to the same situation outside school

You should never underestimate the power of your relationship with the child. The quality of that relationship and the repeated positive experiences it represents will actually shape the child’s stress management system, help the child to regulate their emotions and support them to make sense of their experience so that they can think, while feeling, and make choices. This will support them to manage better whatever their life circumstances present to them. You can and do make a difference.

Just repeating the activities that are demonstrated in the training is enough

It is essential that Thrive Practitioners use the very specific differentiated RELATIONAL strategies suggested in the Thrive-Online resource to develop and/or reshape neuronal pathways so that children learn self-regulation, social skills, emotional resilience and learning resourcefulness. Just repeating the activities demonstrated in training may help initially, but will not be enough on its own.

You do not need to use the Thrive-Online computer programme as long as you are friendly, welcoming and play with children

Guessing or using a broad brush approach is not enough. The Thrive-Online Assessment and Action Planning Resource provides targeted, differentiated strategies and activities to meet assessed emotional and social developmental need.
It supports staff to

• observe and assess each child’s behaviour and/or base line skills

• identify the emotional/developmental needs being signalled

• develop and put in place an action plan that systematically addresses their learning needs

• reassess children at regular intervals to show the progress which has been made

• amend and update individual Action Plans as necessary.

It is no different from what we already do

The benefit of Thrive is that it offers a rigorous, targeted, personalised and measured approach to the emotional and social development of children, which shows progress over time.



How can I learn more about Thrive?

By looking on our website, attending a Thrive conference or awareness session, ringing the office or emailing Our Business Development team can answer any of your questions and will put you in touch with the Thrive Regional Co-ordinators in your area.

What do I need to do to engage my school?

Thrive is a Whole School Approach to working with all the pupils. Experience shows that schools who train at least two members of staff to Licensed Practitioner level and ensure that the wider body of staff receive some form of induction, have the greatest success.

What are the benefits of Thrive for schools?

The benefits reported by schools include improved attendance, reduced disruption in the classroom and playground, fewer exclusions and higher attainment. The Approach is designed to meet the new requirements of the OFSTED Framework for Inspections, especially the evaluation schedule for Safeguarding and Children Looked After. Thrive helps to inform the Multi Agency Plan and promotes Integrated Working.

The training seems to be expensive?

The Licensed Practitioner course is a 10-day course and as well as the training fees there are staff release time and supply cover to be considered. However, in relation to the cost of excluding a child, the costs are minimal. In fact, the cost of training a Licensed Practitioner is less than the UK household average monthly spend (ONS Family Spending 2012).

How can Thrive help to “close and narrow the gaps” for children?

Thrive provides an innovative and practical framework for tackling a raft of often high-cost social issues related to children and families under stress. These include poor attendance and exclusion from school as well as referrals to specialist behavioural support, educational psychological services, child health, mental health and young offenders’ agencies.

Thrive places the child at the centre whatever their background and circumstances. It is based on the uniqueness of individual children’s experience but within a framework of common and universally-shared developmental need and learning. Promoting common understanding and awareness amongst different professional groups, services and agencies is therefore fundamentally important and will directly benefit children who depend on them for support in realising their potential.

Where can I find funding?

Funding sources vary around the country and schools will access different funds such as Pupil Premium. Thrive intervention can prevent greater expenditure at a later stage.

Apart from Practitioner Training what other costs should I consider?

The cost of Thrive-Online and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for the Licensed Practitioners to maintain their Licensed Status.

How much does Thrive-Online Cost?

For schools new to Thrive, our software programme is free for the first 90 days of training. Thereafter a software licence must be in place to support practice in the school. A Whole School Licence is based on the number of children on role and is no more than £3.35/child/annum (ex VAT).

Do I have to buy a Whole School Licence when I only have a few children who need Thrive?

As Thrive is a Whole School Approach to working with children we would strongly recommend that a school purchases a Whole School Licence which allows classes/groups of children to be screened. We make it more cost-effective to purchase this licence as we want all children to benefit.

However, if you prefer you can purchase a Small Group licence for a minimum of 20 children. This licence gives you limited access to the programme and does not allow the Licensed Practitioner to screen groups of children.

What are the benefits of a Whole School Licence?

The Licensed Practitioner would have access to all areas of Thrive-Online for whole class/group screening and for individual assessments and action planning.

Why do I need to screen all the children when I only have a few who display difficult behaviour?

Whole class/group screening would ensure that the emotional development of all children is monitored, not just those with worrying behaviour. Thrive-Online will pick up those children with over-adaptive behaviour; Licensed Practitioners regularly report that through Whole Class Screening they are made aware of children who they did not realise had emotional issues. Once the emotional levels of the class/group are identified, the children can grouped for activities according to those levels.

How can Thrive work in a class situation?

The screening tool identifies children who are working just below age-appropriate levels. These children can benefit from the application of the Thrive Approach through whole class teaching and curriculum based strategies. Strategies are also provided for small group work and 1-1 support.

Can Thrive only be used in the classroom?

No. The Thrive Approach can be used by all staff in unstructured times such as lunchtimes and playtimes, indoors and outdoors.

How does Thrive fit with other programmes I may be implementing in my school such as Nurture /SEAL.

Thrive sits well within these other initiatives, giving increased focus and targeting.

How much CPD is required to maintain Licensed Status and what does it cost?

This is explained in the Thrive Members’ Handbook. Typically a Licensed Practitioner needs to complete one day of CPD per year which costs less than £100 and must demonstrate ongoing use of Thrive-Online.

How do I approach the parents about introducing Thrive in my school?

During the Licensed Practitioner Training delegates receive advice on how to do this. We also have a parents’ leaflet which is downloadable from our website for those on training.


Is Thrive just for teachers and social workers?

No. Thrive can be, and is being, used successfully by teaching assistants, educational psychologists, behaviour and attendance advisors, doctors and other health care professionals, adoption and fostering services, nursery nurses and early years specialists, youth workers, children’s home managers as well as parents.

How can I use Thrive-Online without attending a training course?

At the moment software licences for Thrive-Online are only offered in conjunction with Thrive training.

Can I attend a course?

Yes, we have many parents who attend the full Practitioner course and we have special courses for parents, adoptive parents and foster carers.

How much does the software licence cost?

Software licence prices vary. An individual child licence is currently priced at £57 for the year. Group licences for 20 children or more are priced at £11 per child p.a. Whole school licences will not cost more than £3.35 per child p.a. (All prices shown ex VAT.)

How can I best suggest that my child’s school gets Thrive training?

By talking to your child’s teachers, SENCo, behaviour advisor or head teacher. Invite them to look at our website or ask them to ring the office where someone from the Business Development Team will explain the Thrive Approach. We are always delighted to speak to them and to put them in touch with other schools that are using the Approach.

My child is being ‘Thrived’ at school – what does this mean?

This suggests that your child’s school is using the Thrive Approach with all the children. This is a way of working with children to ensure that their emotional needs are met and addressed.

Why have I been asked to sign a Parental Request Form?

The Licensed Practitioner in the school has identified that your child would benefit from a Thrive Assessment. The assessment would be used to identify any emotional learning needs your child has.
The trained Practitioner would then be able to select strategies which could be implemented both at home and school so that your child’s emotional needs are met.

Do I get to know the results of the Assessment?

Yes, you should be invited into school to have the results explained to you and to be advised of strategies which you could use at home.

How can Thrive work at home?

The Licensed Practitioner will work with you to prepare a Home Action Plan with strategies and activities for you to try with your child at home.