Community learning and development plans: guidance - 2021 to 2024

Guidance document setting out our expectations for education authorities and their partners when meeting duties in community learning and development (CLD) planning for 2021 to 2024 as per The Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013.

Annex A: National Policy

The national policy objectives highlighted below are key policy areas where CLD practice continues to have a significant impact on the most vulnerable learners and communities across Scotland:

Raising Attainment

CLD has an important role to play in supporting children and young people’s well-being; helping children recover any lost ground in learning; and, in closing the attainment gap. We have ensured councils and schools can redirect Attainment Scotland Funding to help mitigate the impact of school closures on our most disadvantaged young people and families, and to make adjustments to existing plans to be delivered as schools return. Pupil Equity Funding of over £250 million has been allocated to schools over the next two years, to help support children and young people. The Attainment Scotland Funding Flexibility Guidance and revised PEF Guidance we have issued to Local Authorities and Head Teachers is clear that any flexibility must remain consistent with the principle of equity in education.

Curriculum for Excellence

CLD is relevant to and supportive of, Scotland’s Refreshed Curriculum Narrative. It contributes directly to the purposes of CfE and its four capacities (successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors); it supports the development of skills for learning, life and work, and, it supports learners to gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century. CLD provides opportunities for all learners and is relevant for all practitioners and partners who are involved in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.

Community Empowerment

Community empowerment is relevant to all parts of the public sector and is an area of increasing importance. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 requires community planning partners to secure the participation of community bodies in community planning. Account should be taken of the interests of people who experience inequalities of outcome as a result of socio-economic disadvantage.

Implementing community empowerment is a national priority for the Scottish Government. It is an important part of public service reform, focusing attention on reducing disadvantage and inequality, and improving outcomes for communities. Community empowerment is central to a human rights based approach to policy and decision-making. The human rights PANEL principles (Participation, Accountability, Non-Discrimination and Equality, Empowerment and Legality) means:

  • people should be involved in decisions that affect their rights and be fully supported to take part in developing policy and practices which affect their lives;
  • prioritising those people who face the biggest barriers to realising their rights.

Community empowerment is a gradual process which involves continual learning and the constant building of a community’s capacity to articulate and address their priorities. It also involves communities having greater influence and input to decision-making. Public bodies and communities are likely to be at different stages as they develop their understanding and gain confidence in working together. Public bodies need to invest in capacity-building appropriate to their local communities, particularly those facing disadvantage.

In some communities, people may already be driving change and public bodies have a role in supporting and facilitating this. Other communities will need to be supported to participate more fully. Public bodies should be finding ways to empower communities, for example by sharing and shifting power in decision-making. It is important that children and young people also have a say in services that affect them.

The National Standards for Community Engagement have been updated to guide thinking about how to engage communities during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. The Standards cover some of the issues impacting on communities which might make it more difficult for people to take part in engagement activity. The Standards also points to useful resources and online tools that can help address these issues.

Partners should also make use of well-established engagement tools such as the Place Standard and participatory budgeting processes. Partners should be pro-active in engaging with excluded groups and carry out an Equality Impact Assessment on the plan. They should learn from existing consultation activity in the area and be wary of duplicating community engagement across the authority area. Local intelligence and analysis of shared data should be used to inform setting priorities with partners and communities.

Outdoor Learning

Outdoor learning is a vital aspect within Scotland’s Curriculum and is particularly important in the context of Covid-19, providing both a safe and challenging learning environment as well as a route to supporting learners’ achievement, attainment and wellbeing. CLD and their partners, including the voluntary sector, help to plan and deliver a wide range of progressive, impactful, challenging and sustainable outdoor learning opportunities.

A summary of outdoor learning resources, including examples from CLD is available from Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub. Specific advice on the potential role of outdoor education during Covid-19 is available from the Scottish Advisory Panel on Outdoor Education.

Family Learning

CLD plays a vital role in providing engaging and impactful family learning opportunities. Family learning is an approach to engaging families in learning outcomes that have an impact on the whole family. Family Learning is supported by National Occupational Standards. In order to support a consistent understanding of family learning Education Scotland have published a number of documents, reports, case studies and resources.

Employment and Skills

CLD plays a critical role in skills development – very often working with people who have been excluded from work and everyday life because of their low self-esteem, skills and confidence. For many people across Scotland, CLD can create a route into skills provision at all levels. This route embeds literacy and numeracy into all of its provision, so that learning and skills development becomes accessible for many people who are disengaged from learning.

Ensuring effective community provision for lifelong learning and skills development is critical to addressing economic recovery post Covid-19. Developing a coordinated learning offer with partners will be vital in ensuring that young people and adults have good quality opportunities to gain the necessary skills and qualifications to progress in learning, training and employment. CLD plans will need to include details of joint work with partners including Colleges, Universities, Skills Development Scotland, Trades Unions, Chambers of Commerce and third sector providers to ensure sufficient opportunities for lifelong learning and skills development.

CLD intervention in this context has an important role to play in delivering key outcomes for young people, adults and communities alongside their partners. For example, CLD works alongside other skills development interventions such as Career Guidance, Individual Training Accounts, the new National Transition Training Fund, Employability programmes or, the Young Person’s Guarantee, to help support the person to get themselves ready by helping to develop the appropriate mix of attributes to be able to compete and sustain in the increasingly competitive job market.

Mental Health Support

CLD plays a vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable young people and adults. In doing so, CLD helps Scotland achieve its ambitions of becoming a wellbeing nation.

The impacts of Covid-19 have particularly highlighted the need for mental health support in our communities. CLD provides support for young people and adults who are vulnerable or marginalised through the delivery of targeted interventions to improve health and wellbeing. Through building this trusted relationship, learners are supported to build confidence, improve resilience and connect with personal development opportunities for learning and building new skills.

The Scottish Government’s Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan sets out key actions to promote good mental health and wellbeing, ensuring rapid and easily accessible support is provided to people in distress. CLD will play a crucial role in complementing these interventions, bringing its significant expertise and knowledge to support and target the wellbeing of those most disproportionately affected prior to, during and following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Digital Engagement

The Scottish Government has set out plans to develop a Digital Learning Strategy for Further Education, Higher Education and Community-based Learning. This work will align digital curriculum and platforms to deliver equity of access to learning across Scotland.

The Strategy will build on the work CLD providers have undertaken to support those most disproportionately affected by Covid-19 have access to the digital means needed to engage with services. We want to ensure that all learners have the digital support they need, regardless of where they engage in such, whether this is on campus/on-site, at home or in a community setting.



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