The Scottish Government’s SHANARRI Framework : “Feelings” or Measurable Indicators?

 

The Scottish Government introduced Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) as the vehicle for achieving its social policy framework. GIRFEC is a national approach which is relevant to each and every child in Scotland and affects every practitioner working in children and family services in the public and voluntary sectors. Inherent within this approach is the assessment of every child’s wellbeing against 8 particular “SHANARRI” Indicators : Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included. The GIRFEC commitment means that no matter their setting or needs every child and young person can rely on a network of support, ensuring they get the right help at the right time. GIRFEC impacts significantly on how voluntary and statutory service providers develop their services.

 

The GIRFEC model has come under much political scrutiny and attracted criticism as being a “nanny state” approach and sometimes as “state approved parenting”. The recent Supreme Court ruling was more critical about the vagueness of definitions of the terminology used within the SHANARRI Indicators rather than the principle of the GIRFEC Model per se. It is this area of defining and measuring the SHANARRI Indicators that is critical to the success of the scheme; the measurability.

 

GIRFEC and the SHANARRI initiatives can only be useful with quality data that can be MEASURED accurately. However, getting valuable data from students about their everyday existence is a difficult area and more so without proper definition of the terms and the lack of quantifiable measures. Focus Groups and Steering Groups have looked at phrasing questions for students around how they think they “feel”. Do they “feel” protected from bad things happening, do they “feel” well physically, you “feel” you are making progress and achieving, you “feel” cared for, etc. All of these are accompanied with a plea to answer the questions honestly and accurately.

 

Without a baseline about a child’s at-risk status, can the relevant authorities genuinely claim how much of a difference they are making or that their interventions lead to measurable changes over time. The validity of such an analysis could be open to criticism i.e. the starting point is a relatively undefined notion and the interventions are not specifically stated.

 

Furthermore, this is very much a top down approach, used by services that work with young people in order to allow them to evaluate what kind of a job the service is doing, and whether it is helping young people. No mention of working with the children, engaging them in a process that will help them improve their understanding of their own circumstances, their self-awareness.

 

Contrast the above approach with APPA.

 

At APPA Scotland, we have taken a child centred approach, to involve young persons to understand themselves and the environment they live in. APPA is a sophisticated, fun app with a serious purpose, designed to motivate and engage young persons in a conversation that will elicit answers accurately without pleading to them to do so. It is a technology that young persons are familiar with and gives them a voice and choice. Moreover, APPA is underpinned by a validated set of questions to assess resilience and wellbeing and produce a Resilience Report of SHANARRI Indicators that are MEASURABLE.

There is no need for a questionnaire to be filled out by a young person as APPA uses an avatar (“Alex”) to ask the questions and generate the Resilience Report. The young person can answer the questions in their own time and in their own “space” without the pressure of adult supervision. APPA also focusses on six modules of specific questions about resilience that converts the answers into a scoring system for the SHANARRI indicators :

*   Resilience

*  Community

*  Peer Relations

*  School

*  Personal Risk

*  Internalising Risk

The validation process comes from Dr. Michael Ungar, one of the world’s leading authority on children’s resilience. APPA is also iterative in nature and provide an effective basis for a trend of behavioural risks and positive development based on the score the young person achieves over time.

APPA is being trialled by over 550 young persons across three Scottish Secondary Schools at present and the results will be shared in due course.

 

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