Wellbeing in OSC

The following information relates to all organisations and agencies supporting children and families i.e. out of school care services, schools, nurseries, health services, police etc.

All out of school care services are expected by the Care Inspectorate to have a working knowledge of GIRFEC. The Wellbeing Indicators should be the basis for evidencing children's outcomes and be integral in service quality development plans and children's personal development plans.


GIRFEC is the national approach to supporting every child in Scotland and ensuring their wellbeing regardless of circumstance, and that any additional support from external agencies is timely, appropriate and specific to each child and their situation. Children's rights, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as well as parents' rights are the drivers behind this approach.

GIRFEC can relate to small individual interventions of support as well as larger multiple agency ones which improve a child's wellbeing and ultimately life experiences and outcomes. Many children will not require any additional support; others may need a little; others will need some for a short a period of time, and others will need consistent and longer-term support which may also involve their family. Children's and families' circumstances and needs can change with little notice - it is the responsibility of people working with children to be aware of signs that a child or family need additional help. Families and children should also feel confident that they can ask professionals for help.

It should be highlighted here that whilst GIRFEC can be about identifying signs of neglect or abuse, it also relates to diagnosed/undiagnosed medical or health conditions, bullying, anxiety, impact of bereavement or family splits etc- anything which is adversely impacting on a child's wellbeing.


Of course, GIRFEC and Child Protection are linked, however one of GIRFEC's aims is to try and identify issues at an early stage (early intervention) and thereby hopefully minimising the risk of an issue developing into what could be a child protection issue.

Child Protection procedures must always be used when a Child Protection case is suspected.


All professionals working with children not only have a responsibility to be attuned to and aware of the changing needs of children in their care but also to do something if they notice a child needs help.

In short: 'if a worker notices something adversely affecting a child, they have to do something about it.'

With this in mind The Five Practitioner Questions have been developed:

  1. What is getting in the way of this child or young person's wellbeing?
  2. Do I have all the information I need to help this child or young person?
  3. What can I do now to help this child or young person?
  4. What can my agency do to help this child or young person?
  5. What additional help - if any - may be needed from others?

The first question is about noticing that something is not quite right for a child; the second is about finding out what, if anything, is adversely affecting the child; the third is about the individual worker doing something (this is regardless of the worker's seniority within the organisation - it goes back to the individual's responsibility of doing something if they notice something); the fourth question is about involving other workers and the organisation as a whole; and the fifth questions is about seeing what additional external help might be required e.g. school, health services.

All professionals working with children should be familiar with, and implement, the five practitioner's questions which should be worked through from question one to question five. Often the support will stop at questions three or four- a child may just need some reassuring/ someone to talk to/ all the support can be provided by the organisation. Question five is when the support required goes beyond the capacity or abilities of any one organisation.

In terms of sharing information, concerns should be raised first with parents/carers (unless it is a child protection issue which preclude such a conversation). If a service wishes to share information with other agencies to seek additional help, consent for this to happen must first be obtained from parents/carers; this is why it is important to have strong and trusting relationships with parents/carers where it is clear that the children's best interests are at the heart of everything.


Ensuring the wellbeing and best possible life outcomes for children are the drivers of the GIRFEC approach. The SHANARRI Wellbeing Indicators have been developed as a way of assessing a child's wellbeing, identifying any issues which need resolved and then putting in appropriate support to help the child.

SHANARRI stands for:

  • Safe
  • Healthy
  • Achieving
  • Nurtured
  • Active
  • Respected
  • Responsible
  • Included

The Wellbeing Indicators are often represented within the 'Wellbeing Wheel'

image for SHANARRI wellbeing wheel

OSC services must develop their own wellbeing wheels which relate specifically to how they ensure that children's wellbeing needs are met within the service. The 'generic' wellbeing wheel is not evidence of how a service operates.


1. Service Quality Development Plans

As stated above, services must adapt the wellbeing wheel to show they ensure the needs of children in their care are being met. A service quality development plan can be developed using three wellbeing wheels specific to the service:

Wheel 1: For each indicator staff and management state how they think they ensure that children's wellbeing needs are met- think practice, policies and procedures, the organisations' ethos, as well as legislation and regulation requirements.

Wheel 2: Ask children if they feel safe, happy etc? What is it that makes them feel safe, happy etc? (Basically you are testing to see if what you have said in wheel 1 is effective.)

Wheel 3: From the responses in wheel 2, identify areas where changes or developments need to happen.

2. Children's Personal Development Plans

Services are required by law to have Personal Development Plans for children which are updated on at least a six-monthly basis. Children's plans should be live documents that inform how children are supported in the service- the SHANARRI indicators should be used as ways of assessing children's wellbeing and evidenced accordingly.

SOSCN provides training on implementing GIRFEC and SHANARRI in out of school care services.

For further information on out training visit: this link


Scottish Government: Getting It Right For Every Child


The Care Inspectorate has produced a number of publications focusing on different aspects of running a childcare service- all of these have the wellbeing indicators threaded throughout case studies and practice examples.

Our Creative Journey
Our Creative Journey Webpage
My World Outdoors
My World Outdoors Webpage
Gender Equal Play in Early Learning and Childcare
download a copy
Food Matters- Nurturing Healthy Happy Children
download a copy


A number of national organisations have produced games and resources to explain and encourage the use of the Wellbeing Indicators in working with children. The wellbeing leaflet and card game are designed as prompts for professionals working with children, and the Calamari SHANARRI is a crafting project for anyone!

Wellbeing Leaflet (Coalition of organisations including Barnardo's; Children in Scotland & Scottish Government)
download a copy
Wellbeing Card Game (Coalition of organisations including Barnardo's; Children in Scotland & Scottish Government)
download a copy
Meet Calamari SHANARRI and the Wellbeing Octopus (includes knitting pattern for a SHANARRI octopus) (Crossreach)
download a copy
Calamari SHANARRI - 8 Wellbeing Postcards (Crossreach)
download a copy
last updated: 29/11/2023