Understanding the basics 2: How does Getting it Right for Every Child and Additional Support for Learning fit together?

questionIt’s easy for people who work in the children’s sector to forget that the daily language they use is gobbledygook to most parents. It’s all too easy to start using shorthand –  (GIRFEC, ASL, CSP’s, SHANARRI, CfE,)* etc and forget these mean nothing to most parents until they are sitting in a room with professionals waiting to find out about their child’s needs or how they are being supported.

In addition to knowing what these actually mean it can be confusing getting your head round how the different approaches fit together.  One area causing confusion is how Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) and the additional support for learning (ASL) framework work together. So, here’s a few key points:

What is Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)?

GIRFEC is the way we try to support all children and young people in Scotland. It allows organisations who work for and with children and their families provide a consistent, supportive approach for all children. It helps practitioners focus on what makes a positive difference for children and young people – and how they can act to deliver improvements.

In 2014, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act made some parts of GIRFEC law including that every child in Scotland will have a Named Person who families can turn if they have any worries about their child. (For under 5’s this will be their health visitor and for primary and secondary aged children this will be their head teacher or a guidance teacher). It also makes it law (from 31 August 2016) that, if there is a wellbeing concern, a Child’s Plan should be opened.

SHANARRI wheelA standard definition of wellbeing has been developed- that children and young people should be Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included. These wellbeing indicators (often called the SHANARRI indicators) are considered necessary for a child or young person to reach their potential. When thinking about a child’s wellbeing, professionals will use the SHANARRI indicators (see the wellbeing wheel) to decide whether support is needed and what type of support would help the child.

What is the “additional support for learning framework”?

This is an easy way of describing the way in which schools, local authorities and other relevant bodies support children who require additional support for learning. The framework was introduced through the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004.  Additional support for learning  doesn’t just apply to children who have long-term learning difficulties or disabilities. Children can need support for many reasons (ill-health, being bullied, being particularly able, being a young carer or young parent, etc) . Some children may need a lot of support all the way through school. Others will only need a small amount for a short time.  (Find out more at  What is additional support for learning).

How do they work together?

At the heart of both GIRFEC and the additional support for learning framework is partnership with parents and putting children’s wellbeing at the centre of any decision about their lives. Although GIRFEC is much wider than just education, a child’s wellbeing plays a huge part in how well they do in school. For some children education will not be the priority issue (for example if professionals are worried about the child’s welfare) but the support that the child needs to access their education should always be considered as part of the bigger picture.

In practical terms, teachers will often be the first professional to recognise concerns about a child’s wellbeing. They are also well-placed to co-ordinate support or make referrals to agencies that can help the child and the whole family.

If a child requires a Child’s Plan, any action for supporting the child in school should be included. If the child has complex needs and has a Co-ordinated Support Plan, this information should form part of the Child’s Plan. Any Child’s Plan meeting should include representatives from education to ensure that the impact of any issues on  their learning are considered.

GIRFEC and ASL in action

Web-PG-case-study-Jack-600x400-thumbnailBWMrs Nicols and Jamie

Mrs Nicols teaches P4 in a mainstream school. In her class is a pupil called Jamie. Jamie has been struggling  with his reading, spelling and writing since P1. He has been receiving support through small reading groups and paired reading. Jamie’s P3 teacher had spoken to Jamie’s mum and the school support for learning teacher about Jamie being assessed for dyslexia.

Jaime was diagnosed with dyslexia at the beginning of P4 by the support for learning teacher. Mrs Nicols set up a learning plan highlighting the support he needed and Jamie seemed to cope well with this in school.  However, since Christmas time Mrs Nicols had seen Jamie’s behaviour deteriorate. Jamie had stopped playing in the playground and was instead spending a lot of time on his own. Following a number of incidents where he lashed out at other pupils, she asked Jamie’s mum to come in to discuss what they could do to help him. At the meeting they discussed whether Jamie’s behaviour was related to how he felt about school. Jamie’s mum got upset and mentioned that she had been struggling a bit at home after her marriage had broken down. Jaime was struggling with his dad not being around as much and the family had been finding things hard financially.  They discussed how the school might help Jamie manage his behaviour. Mrs Nicols suggested that they let Jamie know he could come and talk to her about how he was feeling if he felt he wasn’t coping during the school day. With Jamie’s mum permission Mrs Nicols also suggested she say to Jamie he could attend the nurture room at playtimes and lunchtimes if he felt he needed to.   Mrs Nicols and Jamie’s mum agreed to meet after a couple of weeks to see if things had improved.

*For information:

  • Getting it Right for Every Child
  • Additional Support for Learning
  • Co-ordinated Support Plan
  • Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included
  • Curriculum for Excellence
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