Last Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tracking and Monitoring Wellbeing in Girvan Academy – A Whole School Approach

What is this?

Girvan Academy’s whole school approach to embed tracking and monitoring of wellbeing through the GIRFEC practice model, using an intervention model to improve outcomes and attainment for young people.

Who is this for?

Senior Leaders and practitioners in schools.


Girvan Academy slideGirvan Academy has successfully embedded the GIRFEC practice model to track the overall wellbeing of young people across the school. A robust and rigorous system has been developed to track trends and changes in the identification of wellbeing needs. This leads to appropriate and effective interventions being put in place. A particular focus of the tracking system is emotional and mental health.


Powerpoint presentation: Girvan Academy (1.8 MB)


The aim of this intervention is to incorporate the GIRFEC Practice Model into everyday work and to ensure that there is a clear understanding of wellbeing and SHANARRI across the school. Young people and staff are using the language of GIRFEC and wellbeing: these wellbeing conversations, and the understanding behind them, has become accepted and normal practice as part of the work of the school. Interventions are viewed as a key element of the GIRFEC Practice Model - being responsive to need. This responsiveness is on an individual child by child basis, addressing wellbeing concerns of pupils that have been identified through the process. However, interventions may also be identified in response to contextual and emerging issues which have arisen within school.

A key aim of the model is to increase the skills and knowledge of young people and staff within the school community. This has also extended to the wider community, including third sector partners and other agencies, and has led to increased capacity and capability for school partners to provide appropriate support. This has been particularly important around mental health due to the difficulties accessing external supports.

School Context:

Girvan Academy currently has a roll of 510 pupils and is one of eight secondary schools in South Ayrshire. Girvan is approximately 20 miles south of Ayr (slide 2) and with this comes some rural isolation/deprivation, particularly around public transport and access to services. The Free Meal Applied figure is 22%, however the Free Meal Entitlement figure is estimated to be about 27%. The SIMD profile of the school describes the socio-economic context of the school’s community, with no data zone above Decile 5 in the catchment area. (slide 3) Approximately 50% of the young people live in data zone within Deciles 1-3. There is, however, a clear knowledge and understanding of the young person’s individual circumstances. (slides 4+5). Currently there are 17 care experienced young people within school. There are also a number of young people who are identified as having significant adverse childhood experiencing, including: living in home where there is substance and alcohol misuse, parents who are in prison, bereavement and the children themselves partaking in risk taking behaviours. Trauma and attachment is one of the contextual issues identified.

The mission statement of the school is to ensure young people are safe, happy and achieving. With this in mind, there has been a particular focus and investment in emotional wellbeing and mental health. A member of staff was funded to gain a professional qualification in counselling and staff were also trained in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) approaches, Nurture Approaches, Mindfulness, Anxiety Management; Stress Management, Growth Mindset and Sleep.


The GIRFEC Practice Model is at the heart of all well being work: (slide 6)

Girfec Practice

Well Being

(Gathering information)

Action Planning
(Plan actions/interventions)

The Five Key Questions of GIRFEC are asked: What is the Well Being problem? What other information is needed? What are we going to do about it now? What can we do to help? What other agency intervention(s) are required?

Promotion of Well Being

The school has restructured how it delivers pastoral care. This has been critical to delivering the overall vision of a coherent whole school approach to wellbeing and in embedding the language and ethos of GIRFEC in the school. An additional Guidance post was created and a number of roles were renamed and rebranded. (slides 7+8) The Pupil Support Coordinator became the Well Being Coordinator. Pupil Support has been renamed Support and Well Being and a Care and Wellbeing Team was created. All have responsibility to implement our wellbeing model, combined with the GIRFEC practice model.

As part of universal support, GIRFEC Time was introduced for 10 minutes each morning. GIRFEC Groups were created with the intention of embedding the terminology of GIRFEC and wellbeing, and as a vehicle to deliver HWB, citizenship, ethos and life of the school and House Identity. Groups combine young people from each stage in one class. (slides 9 + 10) Each week has a theme and includes four mini lessons and activities. These are prepared by teachers and groups within school, including pupil groups, and are delivered by the allocated GIRFEC teachers. The same consistent input reaches all pupils (and teachers) across the whole school. Examples of weekly themes are School Expectations, SHANARRI, Child protection, School Values, Attendance, Global Citizenship, Attendance, Emotional Intelligence, Resilience, Relaxation, LGBTi. Friday is used as a more flexible day where there are competitions, surveys, etc.


In addition to a very clear and visible focus on wellbeing across the school, the ability for pupils to reflect on their own wellbeing is a key component of the GIRFEC Practice Model. It is an important aspect of the identification of wellbeing needs that they are able to recognise and articulate when they have a worry or a concern or are not feeling good.

Wellbeing Days take place at the start of each session for S1-S3. (slide 11) Young people rotate around workshops that focus on the SHANARRI indicators. The workshops are led and facilitated by school staff, young people and partners. The outcome of this method of delivery is that young people have a greater understanding of the SHANARRI indicators and a very clear understanding of wellbeing. Young people regularly focus on their wellbeing by completing ‘wellbeing wheels’ at regular intervals throughout the year and reflect back on the information from previous wheels thus self-assessing their progress. Young people’s clear understanding of wellbeing and SHANARRI enables them to undertake informed and supported self-reflection.

Wellbeing Tracking

Tracking and monitoring wellbeingA Care and Wellbeing Team calendar has been introduced detailing the wellbeing work across the school as well as the tracking and monitoring system used. (slide 12)The Care and Well Being Team meet weekly for a Monday morning Team Brief for one hour to discuss individual pupils and their wellbeing. At the end of each discussion, an appropriate action will be agreed. Once per month, the Care and Wellbeing Team meet for two hours after school and scrutinise the wellbeing tracking and monitoring reports for each of the 27 GIRFEC Groups. (slide 13)These reports contain profile information about the child including ASN needs and tracks attendance and referrals. Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires are also regularly completed across the whole school and the scores are held in this report. The purpose of this meeting is action orientated.

SHANARRI well being scores are tracked across the indicators throughout the year. The purpose, again, is to generate a response to need, put in place an intervention and then track the outcome of the intervention. Data is collected on a conditionally formatted spreadsheet which allows staff to identify concerns and tracks improvements or declines in wellbeing scores. (slides 14+15) In addition to wellbeing webs and strength and difficulties questionnaires, other tools are used to garner information. Having identified a concern, additional information is gathered through assessment tools and Team Around the Child meetings and there this a response – an intervention. The process is cyclical in nature with the effectiveness of interventions and improvements in well being monitored (slide 16)


A wide range of intervention strategies are used in school. When considering upon interventions, the following is considered:

  • The intervention needs to have a clear purpose and measurable outcome – is there a clear rationale for doing it?
  • There must be an element of sustainability. Too often, particularly with external groups, an intervention project is put in place but there is no follow up or reinforcement in school – the intervention then, in effect , becomes an isolated event with limited prospect of lasting impact.
  • Interventions should be proactive and reactive - proactive with regards to what identified pupil needs are and reactive and responsive to emerging issues. (slide 17+18)

Young people are provided with routes to enable them to report wellbeing worries and concerns at any time. Wellbeing Drop Boxes are positioned around the school where pupils can post a wellbeing worry, about themselves or others, using a wellbeing card. In addition, ‘worry monster’ cuddly toys are used with S1-S2 pupils in the Supported Learning Centre. This strategy allows vulnerable young people to place their wellbeing worry in the monster’s mouth and zip it up. When the teacher sees that the mouth is zipped, they know a worry is inside and they will then act on the contents of the concern. (slide 19)

Transition and Curriculum

There is an emphasis on sharing worries and concerns, which starts during P7 Transition. Worry Webs have been created which track eight common worries. (slide 20) As the transition process progresses, the worry webs are revisited several times, with the hope that the pupil worries lessen. The last worry web is done two weeks into S1 and forms the basis of the Guidance Teacher’s first pastoral interview.

Let’s Talk lunchtime drop-ins for pupils, and staff, have been introduced to offer an informal talking and sharing space with a member of the Care and Wellbeing Team. The sessions are publicised across the school, were a topic in GIRFEC Group and there is a supporting leaflet talking about the importance of sharing worries.

Wellbeing additions have been added to the curriculum. S1s have a Wellbeing period once per week, in addition to their PSE time. They rotate around four inputs which last 9 weeks each – Mindfulness, Positive Thinking (which is Growth Mindset), Active Lifestyles, which is based around exercise, diet, sleep, etc and Resilience (which is based around the Bounceback programme).

Mental Health

An S3 Mental Health Day has been introduced. S3 was chosen because they are about to enter the Senior Phase with the pressures of examinations, however there was also concern over the prevalence of anxiety and self-harm presentations in S3, so this is a response to emerging need. Similar to the Wellbeing Days, pupils rotate around 30 minute workshops. Through a partnership planning approach, 8 areas for good mental health were developed – Positive Thinking, Facing Your Fears; Relaxation; Active Lifestyles; Knowing Yourself; Let’s Talk, Sleep Well and Healthy Eating. (slide 21)

This means that there are 8 Worries as part of the Worry Webs, 8 SHANARRI indicators about Well Being, and 8 areas for good mental health. In addition, a Staff Well Being Working Group was formed which identified eight areas of staff well being.

S6 pupils were trained to deliver the Cool Heads programme to other year groups. Cool Heads is a stress management programme. In addition to the universal supports available to all, there are a range of targeted supports for groups and individuals with identified well being needs.

Working collaboratively with the NHS, LIAM – Let’s Introduce Anxiety Management – was introduced. Five members of the school staff, including a School Assistant, were trained to enable them to deliver this 1:1 anxiety reduction programme. The training was also made available to Primary colleagues and partners, including a local youth charity.

The WRAP programme (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) is about developing young people’s self awareness of their emotional and mental health, and providing strategies to keep themselves well. The WRAP programme is delivered to groups of young people, particularly with those who are transitioning out of school.

Nurture and Well Being Groups run in school. Nurture Groups follow the model based around the Six Principles of Nurture and focus on young people who are displaying challenging behaviours, which are stemming from emotional dysregulation, trauma and attachment. The Wellbeing groups have been created to meet specific identified need. Some are around socialisation and friendship, others are focussed around emotional wellbeing, often using the five domains of emotional intelligence – Self Awareness, Self Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills.

The School now has two counsellors – one a trained member of school staff and the other from Place2Be a mental health charity. Both provide therapeutic 1:1 sessions with focus on cognitive behaviour therapy and solution focussed approaches.


As described above, Girvan Academy has developed and embraced a culture of wellbeing which permeates all aspects of the school. Wellbeing is not just the concern or domain of the pastoral care team, all staff in the school understand their role in ensuring that young people are doing well over the eight wellbeing indicator. There is robust tracking and monitoring of wellbeing using a GIRFEC practice model approach and the impact of interventions on wellbeing can be tracked through the monthly tracking reports and from regular and calendared pupil interviews – quantitative and qualitative evidence.

However, is the significant work on wellbeing having an impact on attainment? Attainment is rising across almost all areas and cohorts in the school and this improvement aligns with the school’s focus on wellbeing, however can this be evidentially linked to wellbeing initiatives or is the focus on teaching and learning, for example, having a greater impact? This is a very difficult question to answer when the school is utilising a range, or ‘basket’ of initiatives and interventions and thus there are a number of variables. In reality, it is probably a bit of both.

However, demonstrating the impact well being work has on attainment would complete the cycle of the Mission Statement - Safe Happy Achieving. Although there are numerous pupil case studies that can evidence how wellbeing interventions have impacted individual pupils, a system is being currently developed which will link attainment tracking to the monthly well being tracking. At present attainment is not tracked across the school on a monthly basis but rather over certain tracking periods. This new improvement project aims to track attainment monthly and show hopefully show a direct impact on attainment following and intervention.

Support During Lockdown

During the Lockdown school closure, a Welfare, Worries and Wellbeing (WWW) initiative was put in place. (slide 21)The Care and Wellbeing Team contacted young people and their families by telephone, email, video call occasional garden visits. Mechanisms were also put in place to enable wellbeing concerns to be communicated via email and Microsoft Teams.


Girvan Academy has presented and shared their wellbeing work with colleagues through a number of events and conferences – South Ayrshire Sharing Practice Forum; SWIEC (South West Education Improvement Collaborative); Scottish Learning Festival; PINS (Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland) national conference.