The psychosocial impact of NHS Digital Badges on a school-aged cohort

Jo Alexander, Sarah Neill

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Goal-oriented modalities of learning have long been used in educational settings to promote engagement and encourage a step-by-step approach to the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Historically, badges have been material, but in keeping with technological advancements there is a move towards encouraging greater digital engagement. Digital badges are today's version of the Scouts and Guides badge, a virtual non-material version, increasingly being utilized as a pedagogical resource in education and business settings. In 2015, National Health Service (NHS) England developed and launched its own digital badges aimed at supporting children and young people's education of health and well-being. This article presents findings from the first study to explore the psychosocial impact of NHS Digital Badges as perceived by primary school-aged children and their teachers. We conducted a small-scale evaluation involving children aged 8-10 ( n = 57) and their teachers ( n = 2), from a primary academy (school) in the north of England using NHS Digital Badges in their curriculum. Overwhelmingly, children and teachers reflected on the badges positively, as tools that have the capacity to build perseverance, develop emotional awareness, build relationships and enhance skill and knowledge acquisition. Some participants, though, raised vulnerability and safeguarding issues, and we explore the implications of these for future practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-630
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child Health Care
Issue number4
Early online date9 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Children’s participation
  • education
  • evaluation
  • information technology
  • Pediatrics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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