Health and Wellbeing Census Scotland 2021-2022: technical report

Technical report for the Health and Wellbeing Census 2021/22.

Children and young people’s health and wellbeing

Children and young people's wellbeing is important for their healthy development and long-term outcomes into adulthood. Schools have a central role to play in enabling their pupils to be resilient and to support good mental health and wellbeing. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which includes key parts of the Getting it Right for Every Child approach (GIRFEC), assesses children and young people’s wellbeing in terms of eight indicators of wellbeing: Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included (known as SHANARRI). This recognises that children's well-being is multi-faceted and that it is important to measure it holistically across all the various domains that are relevant to a child's life. The wellbeing indicators enable the child or young person, and the adults supporting them, to consider strengths, as well as any obstacles they may face to growth and development. 

Evidence reviews into drivers of child health and wellbeing distinguish between 'protective factors' that eliminate risk or facilitate resilience and have a positive impact on outcomes; and 'risk factors' that cause negative outcomes. Many outcomes are interrelated and will also be risk factors or contributors to other outcomes. Additionally, young people who experience one negative outcome are more likely to experience others, and these often compound each other.

We want all children and young people to be able to learn about health and wellbeing to ensure they acquire skills to live healthy, happy lives. As part of the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach, services working with children and young people, and those who care for them, must play a part in promoting, supporting and safeguarding child wellbeing; this also includes schools. Health and wellbeing is one of the eight curricular areas in the Curriculum for Excellence and is one of the three core areas (together with literacy and numeracy) which are the responsibility of all staff.

Health and wellbeing isn't a single subject or class, but is organised into a number of areas:

  • mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing
  • planning for choices and changes
  • physical education
  • physical activity and sport
  • food and health
  • substance misuse
  • relationships, sexual health and parenthood

Health and wellbeing is also about ensuring that pupils are able to make the most of their educational opportunities regardless of their background or financial circumstances and through promotion of attendance at school. Educational settings provide opportunities for sustained participation in activities that develop mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing.

The Scottish Government uses the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as a framework to ensure that children's rights are considered whenever decisions are taken, and to help provide every child with a good start in life and a safe, healthy and happy childhood. It forms the basis of the GIRFEC national approach for supporting children.

The Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), working with a range of partners and stakeholders, developed a set of public health priorities. Scotland’s Public Health Priorities (2018) set out six key priorities, which are inter-related and interdependent, reflecting the complexity of Scotland’s health challenges and the effort needed nationally, regionally and locally to make a difference. The priorities are consistent with local community planning priorities and Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs). Priority 2 of Scotland’s Public Health Priorities states “A Scotland where we flourish in our early years addresses the health and wellbeing issues of children and young people, and recognising, respecting and promoting their rights is essential to achieving this outcome. This priority places particular emphasis on our early years, recognising the impact that early childhood poverty, disability and adverse childhood experiences can have on health outcomes throughout a person’s life.”

The National Improvement Framework (NIF) states one of its key priorities is “improving the health and wellbeing of children and young people”. While the NIF is a national plan, the activity it contains has been informed by local and school level priorities drawn from the regional improvement plans produced by the Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) as well as the local authority improvement plans.

As well as providing information and contributing to the delivery of the NIF it is recognised that information from the Health and Wellbeing (HWB) Census will support a range of local stakeholders, as well as a number of Scottish Government Directorates, to provide detailed evidence to inform policy making and provide local information to help drive forward local service planning and improvement by LAs/Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs)/ Alcohol Drug Partnerships (ADPs), etc..


For enquiries about this publication please contact:

For general enquiries about Scottish Government statistics please contact:
Office of the Chief Statistician
Telephone: 0131 244 0442

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