Getting it right for every child

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Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC[1]) is the Scottish Government's approach to supporting children and young people. It is intended as a framework that will allow organisations who work on behalf of the country's children and their families to provide a consistent, supportive approach for all.[2] It is best known for the controversial "Named Person" requirement.

It requires that services aimed at children and young people – social work, health, education, police, housing and voluntary organisations – adapt and streamline their systems and practices and work together. The approach encourages earlier intervention by professionals to avoid crisis situations at a later date.

Development of GIRFEC[edit]

The GIRFEC approach arose out of the review of the Children's Hearings System in 2004.[3] The review recognised that in order to improve outcomes for vulnerable children, agencies need to intervene earlier, in a better and more integrated way in response to identified needs and risks, and not when a threshold is reached to trigger action. The origins of the approach can be traced back to the Kilbrandon Report (1964),[4] reinforced by publications such as 'For Scotland's Children'.[5]

Development and early implementation of this approach took place across Scotland. In Highland there were pathfinder projects that launched in September 2006 followed by an implementation phase that began in January 2008.[6] The Lanarkshire pathfinder reported that GIRFEC had led to a sharper focus on the needs of the child and had also helped a culture of shared responsibility among education, health and social work.[7]

Implementation of GIRFEC has included some change management elements, with a programme designed to achieve some consistency around meeting the needs of – and improving outcomes for – all children and young people in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has published a number of guides and resources.[8] to support implementation.

In October 2012 a programme of visits was carried out by HM Inspectors to review the readiness of the education system in using GIRFEC approaches to help ensure that children and families get the right help at the right time.[9]


In July 2012 details of a bill were announced that included embedding the GIRFEC approach in a single system of planning and delivery across children's services[10] A 12-week period of consultation followed and many organisations and individuals submitted responses.[11] The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 became law on the 27 March 2014[12] enshrining in law key elements of the Getting it Right approach.[13]

Opposition to named person requirement of GIRFEC[edit]

Under GIRFEC each child in Scotland will be assigned a "Named Person". The Named Person is intended to be a clear point of contact if a child, young person or their parents want information or advice, or if they want to talk about any worries and seek support.[14] The Named Person will usually be the health visitor for a pre-school child and a promoted teacher - such as a headteacher, or guidance teacher or other promoted member of staff - for a school age child.[14]

Criticism of the Named Person requirement (referred to as a "state guardian" in some media) has been aired in some press,[15][16] newspaper columns,[17] and by home educators,[18] churches, various opposition MSPs and lawyers.[19] Concerns expressed by home educators included: the "Named Person" requirement not being an opt-in service; "wellbeing" may be subject to the bias of the Named Person; and personal data is gathered and shared.[20]

In July 2014 a campaign group lodged legal papers at the Court of Session, challenging the Named Person plans.[21] In January 2015 this legal challenge was dismissed, with the judge explaining that the case "fails on all points".[22][23] An appeal against this dismissal was heard by Lord Carloway in the Court of Session in June 2015. Lord Carloway also dismissed the concerns raised by the campaign group saying "It [the creation of a Named Person] has no effect whatsoever on the legal, moral or social relationships within the family. The assertion to the contrary, without any supporting basis, has the appearance of hyperbole."[24][25]

UK Supreme Court ruling[edit]

On 28 July 2016, the UK Supreme Court ruled against some aspects of the scheme. Judges said that some proposals breach rights to privacy and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights. While they said that the aim of the Act is "unquestionably legitimate and benign" they also said that specific proposals about information-sharing "are not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament" and that the legislation made it "perfectly possible" that confidential information about a young person could be disclosed to a "wide range of public authorities without either the child or young person or her parents being aware".

The Scottish government says it will not commence the legislation until the criticisms are addressed, delaying the implementation until after the end of 2016.[26]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Vincent, Sharon; Daniel, Brigid; Jackson, Sharon (20 September 2010). "Where now for 'child protection' in Scotland?". Child Abuse Review. 19 (6): 438–456. doi:10.1002/car.1140.


  1. ^ "Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC)". Scottish Government. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  2. ^ "The vital importance of getting it right for every child and young person" (PDF). Scottish Government. 11 January 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  3. ^ Scottish Government, St Andrew's House (4 October 2004). "Getting it Right for Every Child: A Report on the Responses to the Consultation on the Review of the Children's Hearings System". Scottish Government. Retrieved 19 November 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Kilbrandon Report 1964"
  5. ^ Scottish Government, St Andrew's House (30 October 2001). "For Scotland's Children Report". Scottish Executive. Retrieved 30 September 2014. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "Changing Professional Practice and Culture to Get it Right for Every Child. An Evaluation of the Development and Early Implementation Phases of Getting it right for every child in Highland: 2006-2009" (PDF). Scottish Government. November 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  7. ^ Blane, Douglas (19 October 2012). "'We've been getting it right for years'". TES Scotland. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Guides and resources". Scottish Government. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Getting it right for every child: Where are we now?" (PDF). Education Scotland. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Bill to increase free pre-school childcare in Scotland". BBC News. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  11. ^ "Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill - Submissions received". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  12. ^ "The Children & Young People (Scotland) Act". Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  13. ^ "Children, Young People and families: Children's legislation". Scottish Government. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  14. ^ a b Scottish Government (16 November 2012). "The role of the Named Person". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  15. ^ SNP Bill to Spy On Parents opposed
  16. ^ Archived 2014-08-26 at the Wayback Machine How the Scottish Government is Stealing Our Children
  17. ^ McKenna, Kevin (23 February 2014). "Comment is free: Scottish children don't need these government spies". The Observer. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  18. ^ Schoolhouse opposes GIRFEC
  19. ^ "Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 - Update for NPPC, April 2014" (PDF). Royal College of Nursing Scotland. April 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  20. ^ "HSLDA | Proposed Law Assigns Government Agent for Every Child".
  21. ^ "Bid to block named person plan goes to Court of Session". BBC News. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  22. ^ Alderson, Reevel (22 January 2015). "Legal challenge against 'named person' plans dismissed". BBC News. BBC.
  23. ^ "Judgement: Outer House, Court of Session [2015]. CSOH 7. P679/14". Scottish Court Service. 22 January 2015.
  24. ^ Naysmith, Stephen (4 September 2015). "Named person concerns are 'hyperbole', say appeal judges". Herald Scotland. Herald Scotland.
  25. ^ "Judgement: Second Division, Inner House, Court of Session [2015]. CSIH 64. P679/14". Scottish Court Service. 3 September 2015.
  26. ^ "Supreme Court rules against Named Person scheme". BBC News. BBC News. 28 July 2016.

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