Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC): child's plan - practice statement

Provides an overview of the consideration and function of the non-statutory child's plan within getting it right for every child (GIRFEC).

Annex A – Glossary of terms

Additional Support Needs for education (ASN)

A child or young person has additional support needs for education where, for whatever reason, they are, or likely to be, unable to benefit from school education without the provision of additional support.

There is a wide range of factors which may lead to some children and young people having a need for additional support. These fall broadly into the four overlapping factors, all of which interconnect with wellbeing.

  • Learning environment
  • Family circumstances
  • Disability or health need
  • Social and emotional factors

Staged intervention is used as a means of identification, assessment, planning, recording and review to meet the needs of children and young people in education.

All local authorities have a staged intervention and assessment process in place which enables practitioners to assess and meet learners’ needs. There are variations between local authorities on the number of stages within their process.


Advocacy can mean different things in different contexts. In this context, advocacy is empowering children and young people to make sure that their rights are respected and that their views and wishes are fully considered and reflected in decision making about their own lives.


In this document the term ‘agency/agencies’ means an organisation or business providing a particular service.

Age of a child

GIRFEC applies to everyone under 18.

Before birth, midwives, maternity and other 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, which provides for continuing care for eligible young people 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.

Assessment of Wellbeing

Under Part 18 (section 96) of Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, an assessment of wellbeing refers to an assessment of an individual child or young person to determine whether ‘their wellbeing is being, or would be, promoted, safeguarded, supported, affected or subject to an effect’.

In terms of this guidance, these terms have the following meanings:

a. promoted – actively encouraged or further developed;

b. safeguarded – protected from harm or damage;

c. supported – given assistance, approval, encouragement;

d. affected – influenced, changed; and

e. subject to an effect – likely to be affected by a set of circumstances.

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

Within GIRFEC, a child’s plan, which may be known by other names across the country, is a non-statutory plan 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 why the plan has been created, the actions to be taken and what should be improved for the child or young person. Unless compulsory measures are justified, if the intervention requires co-operation from the child, young person or family, they will be free to reject any proposed interventions.


A chronology is a timeline of child or young person and family circumstances. It provides a record of key events in the order that they happened.


In the context of information management, a person’s freely given, informed, clear and specific agreement to their personal information being processed. ‘Freely given’ and ‘informed’ are explained at section 10.3 of Practice Guidance 4 – Information Sharing.

Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP)

The co-ordinated support plan is a statutory document which is subject to regular monitoring and review for those children and young people who have one. It is required to be considered whether or not a child’s plan within GIRFEC is being considered.

When a local authority is responsible for a child or young person’s education, that child must have a CSP considered if they:

  • Need support due to complex or multiple factors that negatively and significantly affect and impact on their education, It is the impact on the child or young person’s learning that is important, rather than the reason they need help. The individual factors may not be complex on their own, however, accumulatively they have a significant negative impact on a child or young person’s learning. This can include their wellbeing.
  • Will, or are likely to, need long term support (for more than a year), and
  • Need significant additional support from education and from another department of the local authority such as social work, or another agency or agencies to reach their educational goals. This can include health, another local authority, Skills Development Scotland, or a further or higher education institution.

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended, requires education authorities to consider whether each individual Looked After Child requires a co-ordinated support plan.


Data means raw facts and figures, and information is data that has been managed, put into a context, often in order to make sense of it. In the interests of avoiding overly complicated technical details, within this guidance, references to information or data should be taken to mean both, and refer to information about living individuals.

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 document 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 (GIRFEC)

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 co-ordinating and reviewing the child’s plan will undertake this role.

Lawful basis/bases

Reason(s) or justification for sharing information that is recognised by data protection law.

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.


In this document, practitioner means any person involved in working with children, young people and/or families, whether on a voluntary basis or through paid work. In addition to roles typically thought of as working with children and young people such as health visitors and teachers; this includes wider activities that work with children, young people and families, such as social work, housing services or police.


A transition is a change, from one stage to another. Most children and young people will experience transitions as they move into an early learning and childcare (ELC) setting, from there to primary, from stage to stage, from primary to secondary, between schools and from secondary to further education and beyond.


Within this guidance, universal services refers to routine public health and education services available to all children and young people in Scotland.


For the purposes of this document, wellbeing is a measure of how a child or young person is doing at a point in time and if there is any need for support. The eight wellbeing indicators (see below) provide a framework for assessment and planning in relation to wellbeing.

Wellbeing indicators

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 are informed by the UNCRC. They are overlapping and connect areas that are fundamental to understanding what children and young people need in order to grow, develop and thrive.

Young Carer

Under the Carers (Scotland) Act a young carer is defined as anyone who provides care (or intends to provide care) for someone else, and is under 18 or 18 and still in school.

Young Carer Statement

Under the Carers (Scotland) Act every young carer has the right to a Young Carer Statement. The duty to carry out a Young Carer Statement is on Local Authorities; however, some choose to commission this from education or a local carer centre or young carer service. A Statement is a written record of the key points of a conversation a young carer has with a professional, including a young carer's identified personal outcomes and identified needs for support. This conversation is designed to find out more about the young carer, their caring role, personal goals, and what is important to them. You can find examples of local Young Carer Statements on the Digital Education Hub.



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