Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the community learning and development sector

Published: 31 Jul 2020
Last updated: 2 Sep 2020 - see all updates

Guidance to help local authorities, third sector organisations and partners working in Scotland’s schools, colleges and communities to provide community learning and development (CLD) services safely.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the community learning and development sector


The Coronavirus (COVID 19): Framework for Decision making: Scotland’s route map though and out of the crisis was published on the 21st May and provides an indication of the order in which the Scottish Government will carefully and gradually seek to lift restrictions. Phases are based on meeting particular criteria including those set by WHO (World Health Organisation).  The criteria is used to decide movement between phases with a commitment to review and report every three weeks. While it might be possible to lift some measures more quickly and some may take longer than envisaged, it may also be necessary to reverse some of the measures if circumstances demand.

Phase 1 of easing the restriction measures in Scotland commenced on 21 May 2020; Phase 2 subsequently commenced on 19th June 2020. On 24 June 2020 the Scottish Government released an updated timeline for easing the restriction measures providing some indicative dates. It should be acknowledged that the Scottish Government will review and report on safely transitioning from one phase to another.

This guidance is for the CLD (Community Learning and Development) sector in Scotland which includes youth work and adult learning. It comes into effect on the first day of Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route map to recovery (9 July 2020) and extends until further notice. It will be reviewed regularly as required whilst easing out of lockdown. At a minimum the guidance will be reviewed in line with the three weekly review of lockdown requirements. 

The Scottish Government policy context for the provision of CLD is outlined in the Strategic guidance for community planning partnerships: community learning and development (2012) and the Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013 (“the CLD Regulations”).

The CLD Regulations are subordinate legislation made under section 2 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (“the 1980 Act”). Section 1 of the 1980 Act requires each local authority to secure adequate and efficient provision in their area of both school education and further education, which in this context includes CLD and is not age limited. Section 2 of the 1980 Act allows the Scottish Ministers to prescribe requirements to which every local authority must conform when discharging its obligations under the 1980 Act.

This guidance does not amount to legal advice. CLD providers, staff, and volunteers may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal requirements. 

The Scottish Government has a long-established commitment to fair work, which was set in the context of the current crisis in a joint statement with the STUC. This has been taken into account in developing this guidance for CLD staff and volunteers. The joint statement was developed by the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Health and Safety Executive and local authorities on safe workplaces. 

This is one of a set of Scottish Government sectoral guidance on Safer Workplaces applicable as we progress out of lockdown. A full list of publications from the Scottish Government in relation to COVID-19 can be found on the Scottish Government website.

The Scottish Government has worked with stakeholders across the CLD sector including youth work, adult learning, community based college provision, CLD Managers Scotland, Education Scotland and the CLD Standards Council for Scotland alongside trade unions and COSLA to ensure that this guidance offers clear expectations and practical approaches to a safe, phased full reopening of CLD services.

Scope of CLD

This guidance is designed to help employees and employers from local authorities, third sector organisations and partners working in Scotland’s schools, colleges and communities to provide CLD services safely in accordance with public health advice.

Please consult your own organisation, national body or local authority for more details on specific local guidelines and practices. The CLD workforce is made up of staff and volunteers operating in a range of contexts in local authorities, third and voluntary sector organisations, colleges and schools.

National strategies supported by the Scottish Government in relation to CLD policy include: the National Youth Work Strategy; ESOL Strategy; Adult Literacies in Scotland and the developing Adult Learning Strategy. CLD policy is also key to the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

Using this guidance

This guidance should be used in conjunction with other relevant guidance and advice. Links to further guidance and advice can be found towards the end of this guidance and are useful in helping to inform safe working practice for the CLD sector. In recognising the diversity of CLD practice taking place in a variety of environments, this guidance should be used as a platform for each employer or organisation to meet the needs of staff or volunteers.

It should be applied at a local level. Each service provider will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take (i.e. the size and type of service/sector, how it is organised, operated and managed), using this document as a guide. It has been designed to be applied to cover the spectrum of different CLD provision across Scotland from small generic delivery to large themed services as well as voluntary sector services and projects.

In ensuring the safety of the CLD sector, it is expected that this guidance will be applied to complement the legal duties in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This includes but is not limited to the provisions of suitable control measures, adequate risk assessments and the appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision.

This guidance directs to the suite of publications offering advice and guidance available on the Scottish Government website to help organisations to meet the needs of CLD staff, volunteers and learners. Links ro relevant guidance can be found in the relevant guidance section of this guidance.

Guidance for the CLD sector, the working environment and considerations for restarting face to face services during Phase 3 will require local collaboration between organisations, employers, trade unions and CLD staff and volunteers.


If you would like to provide feedback or have any questions related to this guidance please email

First published: 31 Jul 2020 Last updated: 2 Sep 2020 -