Publication - Advice and guidance

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

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
Providing CLD services

Providing CLD services 

Scotland’s Strategic Framework was updated and published in February 2021, some CLD services will be able to continue with a blended learning model by combining some face to face interaction with online or outdoor activity. In some cases, where there is a higher risk of transmission, CLD services may remain online in order to protect vulnerable service users, CLD staff and volunteers.

Guidance for the CLD sector, the working environment and considerations for restarting face to face services under the updated strategic framework will require local collaboration between organisations, employers, trade unions and CLD staff and volunteers.  

Delivering services following a period of restriction will require organisations, local authorities, schools and colleges to consider the harms presented to learners at all times.

Recognising that there may be negative impacts to learners and others if access to education is limited, CLD providers should carefully consider the appropriate use of risk and equality impact assessments in deciding the scope and scale of face-to-face activity to avoid disadvantaging those who will continue to need remote support wholly, or in part.

Read further information on the four harms.

As the CLD sector shapes services by, with and for learners and communities, decision making should be guided by the CLD Code of Ethics and should take account of the principles, as identified in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis (21 May 2020). 

Underpinning assumptions towards CLD practice and service re-design in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, reflecting the approaches set out by the Scottish Government, with a particular emphasis on:

  • protection – helping to reduce the virus to the lowest possible transmission rate
  • recovery - to a new normal
  • renewal - building a fairer and more sustainable economy and society

In particular, we identify the following key aspects of social and economic development, in each of which CLD has an essential part to play:

  • protecting and improving health
  • learning, well-being and creating local wealth
  • building citizenship, solidarity, community voice and “future-focus”

As CLD practice plays an increasingly important role, it is essential to ensure the quality of CLD practice and the needs of staff and service users are taken into account during the development of guidance at a local level.

Many CLD practitioners have a work base that is not where much of their face to face engagement with learners or daily interactions with other people takes place.

The role of a CLD practitioner often requires practice in multiple locations and settings such as schools, community hubs, outdoor settings, homes and libraries throughout the working day. The peripatetic nature of CLD could create an additional risk of transmission within the community. This risk should be factored into the planning process and reflected in risk assessments when scheduling work activities and peripatetic working environments for staff throughout the easing of restriction measures. 

Easing restrictions

To reduce transmission of the new variants of the virus and to ensure that the ongoing situation is managed effectively, we have put a timetable in place for moving between the levels pending three weekly reviews for all CLD activity. This means that CLD activity permitted at each level of protection will take effect from the 26 April 2021.

Activity for learners under the age of 18

Level 4

The preferred method of delivery for CLD activity is online or outdoors however, learning is permitted indoors solely for the provision of support services for the purpose of essential intervention.

The number of people meeting indoors and outdoors should be kept as low as possible and should not exceed 15 persons at any time including facilitators.

Level 3

The preferred method of delivery for CLD activity is online or outdoors however, learning is permitted indoors for the following purposes:

  • targeted youth work to support health and wellbeing with vulnerable groups
  • completion of youth qualifications or employment training
  • education recovery

The maximum number of persons should not exceed 30 people indoors or outdoors including facilitators.

Level 1 and 2

Learning permitted indoors and outdoors with a maximum number of 30 people in any space, including facilitators.

Activity for learners over the age of 18

Level 4

The preferred method of learning is online or outdoors. Indoor learning should only take place for the most vulnerable people who do not have other means of support and cannot access support remotely. The maximum number of persons indoors or outdoors should be limited to 5 including facilitators.

Level 3

The preferred method of delivery is online or outdoors. Learning and assessment should only take place indoors where it cannot be delivered online and is essential to gaining a qualification or providing essential support to the most vulnerable learners.

The maximum number of persons outdoors should be limited to 15 and indoors should be limited to 5 including facilitators.

Level 1 & 2

Learning is permitted indoors and outdoors with a maximum number of 15 people in any space including facilitators.

Community Facilities

Access to community facilities has been highlighted as a barrier to providing services, however, the Coronavirus (COVID-19): multi-purpose community facilities – guidance make it clear that community learning and development (CLD) activity for youth work and adult learning is an essential part of Scotland’s education system and provides services to some of the most vulnerable people living in our communities. Community facilities are therefore permitted to grant access in line with this guidance which outlines specific restrictions and considerations to be followed at each protection level.

Community development and community engagement

Many CLD practitioners are involved in community development and community engagement activities. Organisations should consider how these activities continue within the protection levels of the strategic framework.

A useful guide for community development work has been developed by the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC).

Supporting communities

It is also recognised that many CLD providers are leading efforts in supporting the most vulnerable people within Scotland’s communities.

Organisations, such as Volunteer Scotland and SCVO, have published information and guidance for volunteers. In addition, Volunteer Scotland run training webinars to support volunteers’ wellbeing (such as mental health) and you can listen to volunteering stories on their Radio V podcasts. Information to help people in local communities can also be found on the Ready Scotland website.

Helpful resources to support the wellbeing of volunteers and others are also available from Lifelines Scotland. Lifelines is a resource for volunteers and others, including managers, and explains what protects individuals in their work or volunteering role and how they can stay well, cope with stress and boost their resilience. It also has information on how to be a supportive colleague and where to access advice should individuals or their families need more help.

Apprenticeships, training and placement providers

Apprentices can return to work at the same time as their co-workers. For specific concerns regarding the safe return to work for apprentices, read the information and support and apprentices can speak to an advisor directly on 0800 917 8000.

It is important to ensure there is a functioning training infrastructure to support economic recovery and the sustainability of apprenticeship programmes. For those Training Providers and assessors that are providing continuity of contracted services for apprentices, learners and employers in the workplace during the pandemic must adhere to the applicable sectoral guidance. The same rules apply to students on CLD placements. If you have specific questions relating to CLD student placements, please contact the CLD Standards Council at


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

First published: 31 Jul 2020 Last updated: 16 Apr 2021 -