Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) Practice Guidance 1 - Using the National Practice Model

The National Practice Model seeks to support practitioners to consider ways to improve wellbeing outcomes for a child or young person

Annex A – Glossary of terms


In this suite of documents the term 'agency/agencies' means an organisation or business providing a particular service.

Age of a child

GIRFEC and the UNCRC (which Scottish Government intends to incorporate into Scots law to the maximum extent possible) applies to everyone under 18. Before birth, midwives and maternity professionals can apply the values and principles of GIRFEC and support to the parents in considering their wellbeing, and that of the unborn baby. During a child’s life, GIRFEC then continues to apply to all children and young people up to the age of 18, or older if still at school, including young people who have left school but are not yet 18. Where young adults have specific needs, other legislation ensures ongoing support for them beyond 18 years of age, including Section 29 of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, where the definition of a young person refers to those having attained the age of 16 and are still at school. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 extends continuing care for eligible young adults up to the age of 21 and after care for young adults who have care experience, up to the age of 26. These Acts ensure ongoing support for these young adults beyond the ages defined above in the GIRFEC framework.

Child or young person

An individual who has not yet attained the age of 18 years.

Child protection

The processes involved in consideration, assessment and planning of required action, together with the actions themselves, where there are concerns that a child or young person may be at risk of harm from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Children’s human rights and UNCRC

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms which we all have in order to live with dignity, equality and fairness, and to develop and reach our potential. Human rights are a list of things that all people – including children and young people – need in order to live a safe, healthy and happy life.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been incorporated into UK domestic law through the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA). Everyone, including children and young people, has these rights, no matter what their circumstances. Under international law, States/Governments are obliged to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. Those delivering public services should respect human rights when they make decisions, plan services and make policies.

Children’s human rights span the entire spectrum of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. Children and young people also have additional rights that recognise that childhood is a special, protected time, in which children and young people must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity. Specific human rights for children are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community. By recognising children’s rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the child as a whole and multi-faceted person. It is important to be clear that all rights are equal, there is no hierarchy of human rights.

We know that children and young people face unique barriers to realising their rights. Their future often depends on the action taken by adults to implement their rights in practice. As children their voices can be unheard, or more easily dismissed. For that reason, the UNCRC recognises that children and young people are human beings with fundamental rights that are written into international law. It also makes clear that special action needs to be taken to ensure those rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. As one of the core United Nations (UN) human rights treaties, the UNCRC helps to safeguard the dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all children and young people. It does this by making sure that important rights set out in other international human rights treaties are applied in a way that is relevant and appropriate to the needs of all children and young people.

Child’s Plan

A personalised child’s plan is developed when those working with the child or young person and family identify that a child or young person needs a range of extra support planned, delivered and co-ordinated. The child’s plan should reflect the child or young person’s voice and explain what should be improved for the child or young person, the actions to be taken and why the plan has been created.

Ecological Model

This is a model that is based on the idea that children’s development is influenced by the relationships they have with their parents, then by school and community environment, then by wider society and culture. These layers of relationships and environments influence and interact with each another as well as the child’s development and resilience. This theory was originally developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner and Stephen J. Ceci in 1994.


Not all family units look the same. In this suite of documents the term 'families/family' can mean adoptive, biological, foster, kinship, extended, composite and others; for example, settings and homes that have felt like family. Some children and young people may belong to more than one family.

Getting it right for every child

This is Scotland’s national approach to promoting, supporting, and safeguarding the wellbeing of all children and young people. It provides a consistent framework, shared language and common understanding of wellbeing. GIRFEC puts the child or young person at the heart and helps children and young people get the right support from the right people at the right time.

Lead professional

When children, young people and families require the help and support of a child’s plan, a lead professional will be needed. The lead professional is an agreed, identified person within the network of practitioners who is working alongside the child or young person and family. In most cases, the professional who has the greatest responsibility in coordinating and reviewing the child’s plan will undertake this role.

Named person

This is a clear point of contact for times when children, young people and families require information, advice or help. The named person is mainly provided by health and education services and is usually someone who is known to the child, young person and family and who is well placed to develop a supportive relationship with them. Local arrangements and the term used to describe this role or function may vary from area to area. A named person can help children, young people and families access relevant support for a child or young person’s wellbeing. Where there is a child’s plan in place, the named person will work alongside the lead professional, continuing to provide general advice or support, while the lead professional will be the point of contact in relation to the plan. In some cases the named person will also be the lead professional.


This document uses the term ‘parent’ within the meaning of section 15 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. The term ‘parent’ includes a person who is a genetic parent of a child, a parent by adoption, and those who are parents by virtue of Human Fertilisation and Embryology legislation. In this document, the term also embraces a person who has parental responsibilities in relation to the child or young person, who has care of the child or young person, or who is a guardian of the child or young person whether appointed by parents or the court.

Wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI)

Any assessment of a child or young person’s wellbeing should be founded on the 8 wellbeing indicators: Safe, Healthy, Active, Nurtured, Achieving, Respected, Responsible, Included, sometimes referred to as SHANARRI. The wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI) are informed by the UNCRC. They are overlapping and connecting areas that are fundamental to understanding what children and young people need in order to grow, develop and thrive.



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