What Realigning Children’s Services means for parents and pupils

The Realigning Children’s Services (RCS) programme is being run by the Scottish Government and Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) to improve the commissioning of children’s services in Scotland.

There is one CPP for each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas and they are made up of various bodies, including councils, health boards, emergency services and community groups.

CPPs plan services to help improve children’s wellbeing. These are services delivered by the local authority, health board or other service provider to improve children’s wellbeing.

Wellbeing is about how things are going for children in their lives. Our approach uses eight words to describe what it looks like when things are going well – in other words whether a child is:

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

We are using these words as the basis for surveys to find out where children’s strengths lie and – if there are trends that should concern us – to help make sure that children’s needs are better met by the services provided.

While mums, dads, carers, grandparents and the wider family are there to provide love and support, sometimes children – or those looking after them – might need a bit of extra help with something, or advice and reassurance that they are doing the right things.

The idea is to try to address any concerns early on to prevent them escalating. This is known as “early intervention” and evidence suggests that it is better for children’s wellbeing, reduces the risk of long-term problems and also helps to avoid crisis situations.

To help us to understand the strengths and possible concerns in the local child population, pupils in primary and secondary schools are asked to take part in a survey on health and wellbeing.

The survey work is carried out by a leading Scottish survey research organisation – ScotCen Social Research. They currently also carry out major national studies, such as the Growing Up in Scotland survey.

The RCS programme also asks the CPPs to gather information on the services for children and families that are currently available locally and, through data linkage, assess if these services are used in the right way. This information, together with the information on children’s wellbeing from the surveys, will be used to help the CPPs plan services for children and their families that are focused more on early intervention or prevention.

Survey of pupils in P5 to P7 (contractor – ScotCen)

This is an entirely new survey, designed specifically to meet the needs of the RCS programme. Children will complete a web-based questionnaire themselves during a lesson at primary school.

All children in P5-P7 will complete the same questionnaire, regardless of which school year they are in. The differences in age are unlikely to have a significant effect on how they interpret and respond to the questions.

The questionnaire will take around 20 minutes to complete. Questions will use clear and simple language that the children use themselves. They will be short, simple and well-defined, and avoid ambiguous or abstract ideas.

Audio support will be available with this survey, which means that all the instructions, questions and answer categories on screen are also read out via an audio recording. Each child will be allocated a set of individual headphones.

Survey of pupils in S1 to S4 (contractor – ScotCen)

This is a new survey, based upon the previous year’s Scottish Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey with Wellbeing Boost.

Survey questions ask about aspects of emotional and physical wellbeing such as family life, friendships, school, play and health.

The survey is online and takes children approximately 25 minutes to complete. Children in years S1 to S4 in participating CPPs will be invited to take part in the survey.

Survey of parents with children aged 0-8

There will also be a parent survey, involving a randomised number of parents in each local authority area. Interviewers will carry out face-to-face interviews in the homes of families with a child or children of 0-8 years of age.