Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) - Statutory Guidance - Assessment of Wellbeing 2022 – Part 18 (section 96) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

This statutory guidance clarifies how the eight wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI) are used in assessing the wellbeing of children and young people and will explain what wellbeing is in the context of the Act.

9. Context

Taking a holistic view of the wellbeing of all children and young people is at the heart of the GIRFEC approach. GIRFEC is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Children’s rights and wellbeing are intrinsically linked and are mutually reinforcing. Where a child’s rights have been respected, protected and fulfilled, their wellbeing should improve. Where a child’s wellbeing is flourishing and their rights are respected, they are better able to enjoy their rights, and defend their rights and the rights of others. The UNCRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world and sets out the specific rights that all children have to help fulfil their potential, including rights relating to health and education, leisure and play, fair and equal treatment, protection from exploitation and the right to be heard.

The 54 UNCRC Articles set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child. The Articles should be considered universal, inalienable, indivisible, and interdependent, meaning they apply to everyone under the age of 18, cannot be taken away, they are all of equal importance, and they depend on each other to provide a single framework that is essential to upholding the rights of children. There are four General Principles which underpin how the Convention should be interpreted and put into practice. These are that children:

  • Should not be discriminated against (Article 2);
  • Should have their best interests accounted for as a primary consideration (Article 3);
  • Have the right to survive and develop (Article 6); and
  • Have the rights to have their views heard and taken seriously (Article 12)

These should provide the foundation for any assessment of a child’s wellbeing (Safe, Healthy, Active, Nurtured, Achieving, Respected, Responsible, Included: sometimes referred to as SHANARRI). The wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI) are also 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. This rights-based approach emphasises the responsibility of all public services and their partners to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights. Further detail about the Scottish Government’s commitment to the UNCRC can be found on Human rights: Children’s rights.

Taking a holistic view of wellbeing is not a new concept. It has been evolving for a considerable time, and has involved extensive consultation and deliberation. It is right that we should strive for every child and young person’s wellbeing to be as good as it can be and there are now widely-accepted targets in terms of child health and development. The Act does not, however, specify the level of wellbeing that should be attained by every child or young person. Wellbeing will be relative, and will be influenced by the child’s or young person’s circumstances and what support they get from their family, community and professional services.

The Act identifies various times when practitioners should undertake a wellbeing assessment using the eight wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI) set out in section 96(2) based on the considerations set out in section 96(1) of the Act. This part of the statutory guidance sets out what the wellbeing indicators are (section 37 above). These are a component of the model of assessment known as the National Practice Model (Practice Guidance 1) and should be read together.

Wellbeing is multi-dimensional. A child or young person’s wellbeing in relation to one indicator may impact on, and interact with, their wellbeing in relation to other indicators. A child or young person’s achievement in school, for example, is not just affected by experiences at school, it is also affected by their experience of being nurtured, their physical and psychological health, and the extent to which they are accepted as part of the community in which they live and learn.



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