Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 31 Jul 2020
Last updated: 3 Nov 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
CLD response during COVID-19

CLD response during COVID-19

In setting out this guidance the Scottish Government recognises the unique skillset of CLD, which has proved invaluable in providing Scotland’s communities with much needed support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, the CLD sector adapted their services to provide essential lifelines and support through face to face interaction, digital engagement or through telephone contact to young people, adults, families and communities.

Surveys carried out by the CLD sector throughout the crisis informs us that the CLD sector have demonstrated they are well positioned to identify, engage and support, learners and communities most in need. In responding to the pandemic, this data tells us that CLD practitioners have applied their knowledge, skills and experience across all aspects of community engagement and learning.

There has been a blended approach to service delivery with a mixture of online / digital programmes and physical responses to community needs. It is recognised that many CLD services have changed working practices to deliver services to learners and communities 7 days per week including evenings. 

CLD staff and volunteers have been resilient, agile and quick to respond to young people, learners and community. During the COVID-19 pandemic CLD staff moved to delivering services to allow people to stay safe at home where possible.

CLD practitioners have also adapted the CLD offer to include:

  • contribution in responding to food emergency work, medicine delivery 
  • developing community hubs and first point of contact for vulnerable communities
  • developing and supporting  networks of volunteers
  • moving services on line  and addressing emerging issues around mental health and wellbeing
  • providing front line support for vulnerable children and children of key workers
  • supporting communities develop local responses to the crisis, providing information and advice networks
  • continuing to be a front line presence in the most deprived communities when many services had to withdraw.
  • youth work in schools to offer a blended learning model providing young people more opportunities for learning.

Key to this role has been CLD practitioners’ access and knowledge of local community networks and the ability to form trusted relationships with those who are vulnerable.

In planning for a full return to active civil society whilst drawing from the Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis” (Scottish Government  21st May 2020) and the Strategic Framework (Scottish Government 23 October 2020), service providers from the CLD sector across public and third sectors have developed new and flexible ways to deliver services with, by and for vulnerable and marginalised learners and communities in changeable circumstances.


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

First published: 31 Jul 2020 Last updated: 3 Nov 2020 -