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Empowered to Practice The Future of Community Learning and Development Training in Scotland

DescriptionReview of professional training in community learning and development
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateFebruary 07, 2003


    Empowered to Practice
    The Future of Community Learning and Development Training in Scotland


    Scottish Executive Response to the Community Education Training Review
    February 2003

    This document is also available in pdf format (316k)


    photoCommunity regeneration, community planning, lifelong learning, adult literacy and numeracy and developing youth policy present changing challenges to practitioners engaged in community learning and development. It is vital that, as with other professions, those working in the community learning and development field and those training to enter it are equipped with the knowledge, confidence and skills to provide the highest quality service to address a diverse range of needs and issues.

    The Community Education Training Review Advisory Committee recognised these challenges and concluded that there was a need for a major overhaul of community education training to equip practitioners to address these ever more demanding tasks. The Scottish Executive endorses much of what the Committee recommended. As the Committee stated and as we agree:

    The outcome of this Training Review, therefore, should not only be about producing better trained professionals, although that too must be achieved. There is, we believe, the opportunity to restructure the training and support for this area of work in a way that would enable the total workforce to demonstrate and promote inclusion and capacity building.

    We are publishing this response alongside the new Working Draft Community Learning and Development Guidance. We emphasise within that Guidance the importance of the 'raising the skills' agenda for Community Learning and Development Partnerships and for the further and higher education and work-based training providers involved in professional training. Responsibility for training at all levels requires a partnership between the Scottish Executive, employers, training providers and practitioners.

    The Scottish Executive wishes to see a strong, vibrant and inclusive community learning and development profession. We wish to see practice coherence, but also more effective interventions that recognise the increasingly diverse challenges for practitioners. We wish to see training programmes fully articulated within the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and jointly designed and monitored by employers, practitioners and training providers.

    May I take this opportunity to express my thanks to Fraser Patrick and the members of the Advisory Committee for the important work that they have done. My thanks also to the Community Education Validation and Endorsement committee, PAULO, the National Training Organisation for Community Learning and Development and to all those practitioners and training providers who have worked with us to get this review right. This is the sign of a confident sector capable of performing the essential function of self-review, upon which change can be built.

    Community learning and development is high on the Scottish Executive's agenda. These are exciting times for those working in this field and for those thinking about entering this empowering profession.


    Des McNulty, MSP
    Depute Minister of Social Justice February 2003

    The Scottish Executive response to the Community Education Training Review.


    The Community Education Training Review (CETR) was established in 2000 by the Deputy Minister for Education, in response to a recommendation in the 1998 Osler Report, Communities: Change Through Learning. A Ministerial Advisory Committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Fraser Patrick. The Scottish Council for Research in Education (SCRE) was commissioned to work with the Advisory Committee to:

    1) Map training needs required for practice at qualifying and pre-qualifying levels.
    2) Map current training at these levels.
    3) Consult a range of stakeholder interests on changes required.
    4) Identify opportunities for multi-disciplinary training.
    5) Make recommendations on the future for qualifying and pre-qualifying training.

    SCRE reported to the Advisory Committee in March 2001 in a report entitled Working for Democracy: Review of Community Education Training. Following consideration of the SCRE study, the Advisory Committee presented its recommendations to the Scottish Executive in July 2001. In December 2001 Ministers transferred responsibility for professional training in this area to the Scottish Executive Development Department. In April 2002 the Minister for Social Justice agreed to put the SCRE research and the Advisory Committee's recommendations out for consultation with employers, training providers, practitioners and other interests. The consultation process was organised by the Centre for Community Learning and Development at Communities Scotland between June and August 2002 and a report presented to the Scottish Executive in September 2002.

    The Consultation process and this report are structured around the key recommendations made by the CETR Advisory Committee. These, together with a summary of the consultation responses are presented here. The Scottish Executive has considered each of the recommendations and the views of the stakeholder interests and its response is outlined below.

    The policy and practice context

    Over the period since the CETR, there have been substantial changes in the policy and practice context within which practitioners in this field are operating. In spring 2001 the Scottish Executive supported the launch of the Connecting Communities ICT training programme for community learning and development practitioners. In September of that year we announced our strategy with regards to adult literacy and numeracy, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced practice training in this area. In June 2002 we published our policy statement Community Learning and Development: The Way Forward together with the Community Regeneration Statement Better Communities in Scotland: Closing the Gap. Both highlighted the vital contribution that community workers can make towards the revitalisation of disadvantaged communities across Scotland.

    In October we published Working Draft Community Planning Guidance to accompany the Local Government in Scotland Bill. This Guidance recognised the central role that community learning and development practitioners must play with regards to enhancing the engagement of communities in the community planning process. In November 2002 the Scottish Executive published its response to the Scottish Parliament's Inquiry into Lifelong Learning, recommending that a higher profile be given to community-based adult learning. During this period we also commissioned a review and mapping of youth work. In January 2003 we published Working Draft Guidance on Community Learning and Development, identifying practice priorities and highlighting the importance of continuing professional development for Community Learning and Development Partnerships.

    These initiatives, together with the wider review of National Training Organisations, the establishment of Sector Skills Councils, and the development of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework present enormous opportunities and challenges to the community learning and development profession.

    The need for a strategic response

    The CETR Advisory Committee recognised this changing context and in doing so presented a number of important recommendations to the Scottish Executive, and a number of challenges to the profession. These recommendations and the Scottish Executive's response to them form part of a coherent strategy for enhancing the quality and effectiveness of community learning and development practice. By moving forward on a number of fronts we intend to work with the profession to improve practice in a number of ways.

    We have already accepted the Committee's recommendation to change the name of this field of practice and in doing so to build upon the best of community education and community development. Over the next twelve months we shall support projects concerned with expanding part-time and work-based training, fieldwork placements, the training of volunteers and other professionals engaged in community learning and development. We shall be supporting measures that enhance a common understanding of community learning and development and its profile at national and local levels; and we shall be establishing a National Development Project on the collection of management information together with associated training and practice support.

    We wish to see:

    • a vibrant and effective profession able to advocate for the contribution that it is able to make to community planning, community regeneration, lifelong learning and work with young people;
    • high standards across the profession through the validation, endorsement and accreditation of training, including continuing professional development;
    • wider access into the profession, with an expansion in work-based training opportunities;
    • the introduction of a generic degree in community learning and development, to replace the degrees in community education; and
    • recognition of HNC and HND level awards as vocational qualifications which, together with the degree and other programmes, are aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

    We shall also be working with the profession to examine the issue of the Registration of practitioners.

    These changes amount to the most radical shake-up in community education and community development training for many years. Community learning and development practice is now out of the shadows. The potential contribution that it can make has not been as high on the public policy agenda as it now is. This creates equally high expectations. The Scottish Executive recognises that in realising change on the ground there is a critical need to invest in the skills of practitioners at all levels, from volunteers to managers.

    We wish to see a profession that is coherent but recognises practice diversity, able to respond to the needs of individuals and groups of people, young and old. Youth work, community work, community-based adult education and adult literacy work as well as the application of a community learning and development approach to other disciplines, such as health promotion or environmental education require to be of the highest quality if we are to improve people's life chance opportunities. Community learning and development practitioners intervene into people's lives. We therefore all have a responsibility for ensuring that the educational and development support given is the best.

    Detailed response to CETR recommendations

    CETR Recommendation 1. To change the name of the field of practice from community education to community learning and development.

    Consultation response

    The recommendation to change the name of this field of practice was not specifically consulted upon in the consultation on the CETR report, as the Scottish Executive had already announced in Community Learning and Development: the Way Forward in June that it had accepted this proposal. This decision has received widespread support.

    Scottish Executive response to the CETR recommendation

    This was announced in Community Learning and Development: The Way Forward in June 2002.

    The term has already been widely used by the Scottish Executive, for example in relation to developing Community Planning, Community Regeneration and Lifelong Learning policies.

    Communities Scotland has been remitted to co-ordinate marketing and profile raising across Scotland in association with the members of the Scottish Executive/CoSLA working group. It will also be working closely with the National Development Centres and local service providers.

    The Scottish Executive/CoSLA working group is supporting Communities Scotland to profile a shared statement on community learning and development. This has been incorporated in the Working Draft Guidance for Community Learning and Development published in January 2003 and sent to all Community Planning Partnerships and key interests.

    CETR Recommendation 2. To adopt the definition for community learning and development proposed by the Advisory Committee.

    Consultation response

    Though generally positive comment outweighs rejection across all the responses, the balance of opinion was that the definition proposed by the CETR should be revisited. The responses suggested that there should be increased reference to the values base and the purposes of community learning and development. The role of community learning and development in promoting learning should be more strongly reflected, together with more emphasis upon the community development dimension.

    Scottish Executive response to CETR recommendation

    We agree with the consultation response that there is a need for clearer definition of community learning and development.

    We propose the following:

    Community learning and development is:
    "Informal learning and social development work with individuals and groups in their communities. It seeks to strengthen communities through enhancing people's confidence, knowledge and skills, organisational ability and resources."

    We see community learning and development as being based on a commitment to the following:

    • Empowerment - increasing the ability of individuals and groups to influence community circumstances;
    • Participation - supporting people to take part in decision-making;
    • Inclusion, equal opportunity and anti-discrimination, recognising that some people have more restricted opportunities and influence so should be given particular attention;
    • Self-determination - supporting the right of people to make their own choices;
    • Partnership - recognising that many agencies can contribute to community learning and development and should work together to make the most of the resources available and to be as effective as possible.

    The definition will be highlighted in the new Guidance and in other policy statements by the Scottish Executive, by Communities Scotland and the Scottish Executive/CoSLA working group.

    CETR Recommendation 3. CeVe competences should remain at the core of community learning and development. There is a need, however, to update the competency framework for qualifying and pre-qualifying training e.g. to add partnership working and ICT.

    Consultation response

    Respondents generally agreed that CeVe competences should remain core. However, there was a clear majority in favour of adapting them to current circumstances, policy and practice developments. Responses stressed that any revision should ensure coherence with other frameworks. The field should be involved in the revision.

    Scottish Executive response to CETR recommendation

    The existing competences are still broadly appropriate at degree level, but do require updating. An additional competency element should be added relating to multi-agency partnership working and Community Planning. Other skills relating, e.g. to social capital, ICT, LEAP, How Good is Our Community Learning and Development?, international education and literacy work require to be more explicitly incorporated within existing elements. With the combining of community education and community development, training programmes must ensure that individual and community capacity building competences are evidenced.

    Pre-qualifying competencies require more radical change. The pre-qualifying HNC programmes should be renamed and recognised as vocational qualifications in their own right, as well as being a route to a qualification at degree level. We wish to see a clearer articulation between these qualifications and the degree level programme within the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), with credit recognition given to students who have completed HNC/D programmes seeking to continue their training at degree level.

    There is a need to ensure that the overall framework supports access and progression and creates stronger links and coherence between competences and national occupational standards. The revised competences at all levels need to take into account the National Occupational Standards developed by PAULO, the National Training Organisation for Community Learning and Development and its successor body.

    We agree with the CETR Advisory Committee that employers and practitioners should work more closely with training providers on course design and in course monitoring. We wish to see this partnership approach adopted for all levels of training and for field interests on course design and monitoring to be represented by Community Learning and Development Partnerships.

    This will necessitate the revision of the training guidelines. The CeVe guidelines were last revised in 1995 by SCEC staff and a CeVe sub group, and included focus group and consultation meetings with key stakeholder interests such as employers and training providers. Professional interests should be engaged in the revision of the competences, with the aim of publishing the revised competences and guidelines by 2004.

    The Scottish Executive is keen to see clear guidance to training providers on schemes for accrediting both APL and APEL, for credit accumulation and the articulation between levels of training. CeVe is already working closely with SCQF to ensure that all levels of training are in accordance with the new framework and the Scottish Executive strongly supports this. The SCQF will also ensure better articulation between the different levels of training.

    CETR Recommendation 4. There should be an expansion in work-based and part-time routes for HNC and degree level programmes.

    Consultation response

    The balance of opinion was clearly in favour of expanding part-time and work-based modes. The consultation identified a range of practical issues that require to be addressed if the proposal is to be implemented. It suggests that having a range of routes is valued and highlights the significance of existing part-time and work-based provision.

    Scottish Executive response to the CETR recommendation

    Evidence from the NTO and employers indicates that there is a significant supply-side shortage of trained practitioners. The diverse range of employment opportunities for all areas of community learning and development practice necessitates an expansion in the number of students being trained at both levels. We agree that any expansion in overall training places should focus upon part-time and work-based modes.

    The Scottish Executive is committed to widening access to professional training to people who would otherwise be unable to participate in full-time university-based programmes. In particular we wish to see wider opportunities for individuals who have been active within their community to access training at HNC/D and degree levels. The universities and such bodies as the Linked Work and Training Trust have developed flexible part-time and work-based modes over many years. We also welcome the work of the YMCA George Williams College in providing an open learning dimension in order to widen access particularly from rural areas. We wish to see HNC/D and degree level training providers working more closely together and with employers, practitioners and community interests in designing and delivering part-time and work-based programmes.

    We wish to improve the articulation between levels of training and to enhance the influence of employers upon training programmes. We shall therefore invite employers, and HE institutions, FE colleges and work-based training providers to develop ways to expand opportunities for part-time and work-based training at HNC/D and degree levels. The Scottish Funding Councils for Further and Higher Education have strategic grant programmes to support innovative developments. The two councils will work with HE institutions, FE colleges and work-based training providers to encourage suitable proposals to these programmes in 2003, particularly for support with the costs of collaboratively developing or adapting flexible and fully articulated part-time and work-based courses.

    CeVe, together with employers and the body expected to replace PAULO, the NTO for community learning and development, should examine the scale of employer demand and explore with the Scottish Executive, SFEFC and SHEFC the implications for a longer-term development strategy for work-based training.

    CETR Recommendation 5. Besides a generic community learning and development degree there should be specialist degrees e.g. in youth work and community work, but underpinned by a common community learning and development core.

    Consultation response

    The balance of written responses was clearly opposed to specialist degrees. Feedback from the consultation seminars however, indicated significant support for increased emphasis on specialisms in some form, and the written responses were consistent with this. The consultation suggests that there is a need for some clarification of what is meant by specialisation and how it might best be achieved.

    Scottish Executive response to the CETR recommendation

    We wish to see the retention of a generic degree. Whilst the CETR Advisory Committee proposed retaining a generic as well as introducing more discrete degrees, the underpinning SCRE research did not provide evidence that employers wished to see the development of specialist undergraduate degrees. The consultation also confirmed that employers value retaining common training at degree level, but that more attention must be given within the degree programme to the realities of practice diversity.

    Calls for more discrete training by employers and practitioners tend to be at a level below the degree, in particular in relation to adult literacy and numeracy work and for work with young people. This suggests that there is a need to address these employment needs at HNC/D level. With regard to the 'pre-qualifying' HNC programmes, we see a strong case for replacing the general 'Working with Communities' HNC with more focused HNC and HND programmes for professionals working with young people, adult learners, including adult literacy and in community action. Enhancing training at this level is, for example, seen as a key part of the Adult Literacy and Numeracy training strategy to drive up quality of provision across the country.

    We also support the view expressed by employers and practitioners in the consultation, that there needs to be more specialised training available through Continuing Professional Development and at post qualifying levels. We wish to see guidance to training providers relating to post qualifying specialist training and the endorsement of post qualifying community learning and development training programmes, including CPD, for both core and other disciplines seeking to adopt this approach. The Scottish Executive would see this building upon the work developed by CeVe in relation to the endorsement of post-qualifying community practice training.

    In summary, the Scottish Executive believes that graduate training programmes should remain of a generic nature, i.e. a degree in community learning and development. All graduate students must however, be able to demonstrate transferable skills applicable across the three main areas of practice (adult education, community work and youth work) and in different settings. It is recognised that for students completing a one-year community learning and development postgraduate certificate, it may not be possible to undertake fieldwork placements across all areas of practice. However, it is essential that all those qualifying at graduate level are able to evidence the ability to work with young people and adults, with individuals and groups.

    The Scottish Executive strongly supports the related proposal made by the CETR that at all levels, wider opportunities for joint training with other disciplines such as teachers, librarians, college lecturers, health workers and social workers should be introduced to encourage a wider appreciation of collaborative working. We would wish to see a considerable expansion in joint training opportunities at all levels.

    There will be a need for CeVe to hold discussions over the coming year with other professional bodies and training providers with regards to extending opportunities for joint training with other disciplines.

    CETR Recommendation 6. There is a need to undertake a study on fieldwork placements.

    Consultation response

    Responses to the consultation confirm the view that there are significant issues that need to be addressed in relation to fieldwork placements. They suggest concerns over the consistency of standards in provision of placements, and a commitment to contribute to addressing these. There was considerable support for a review.

    Scottish Executive response to CETR recommendation

    The fieldwork placement component of training is vitally important. The SCRE research confirmed that there are significant supply-side problems in securing sufficient fieldwork practice placements, particularly with regard to the voluntary sector, together with a shortage of appropriately trained fieldwork supervisors. The current pattern of 'singleton' supervisors may not be the most cost-effective approach and consideration should be given to establishing shared brokerage units able to work on behalf of all the community learning and development partners within a Community Planning area.

    The Scottish Executive will commission a study to identify these issues in more detail and to identify practical options for expanding the supply of fieldwork placements, including identifying any long-term cost implications. The report of this study shall be completed by 2004.

    CETR Recommendation 7. There is a need for an independent national body with an enhanced remit and functions building upon the role of CeVe.

    Consultation response

    The overwhelming view was that a national body is needed, particularly to ensure quality and standards in training, and articulation of courses. There was a strong wish to see the body taking on a more pro-active and developmental role, and that it should be properly resourced and have adequate authority for these purposes. Concrete suggestions as to where the national body should sit are not a strong feature in the responses, other than indications in general terms that it should be independent.

    Scottish Executive response to CETR recommendation

    The Scottish Executive wishes to see a practitioner-led body responsible for validation, endorsement, accreditation and registration for community learning and development, with enhanced capacity, building upon the work of CeVe.

    The Scottish Executive will establish a steering group, broadly reflective of employer, practitioner, training and other professional interests, to consult and make recommendations as to the status, location, remit and governance of the body. It is expected that the national body will be operational by early 2004. In the interim CeVe shall continue to fulfil its current role.

    CETR Recommendation 8. There is a need to introduce a probationary period for all newly-qualified staff.

    Consultation response

    Though strong views were evident on either side, there was no clear consensus for or against the introduction of a probationary period. The value of greater support for new workers was generally accepted, but probation, as a method for delivering this was not.

    Scottish Executive response to CETR recommendation

    The Scottish Executive is not yet convinced of the need for this. An induction programme and CPD opportunities, provided by employers should support all newly-qualified staff.

    CETR Recommendation 9. There is a need to introduce a national registration system for all qualified professional staff.

    Consultation response

    Support for a registration scheme and its benefits were definitely articulated. A clear majority was evident in the written responses, with the seminars more ambiguous. Respondents wanted to see any development addressing the perception that it might be seen as exclusive. Nonetheless, the consultation indicated a positive desire to explore the potential of registration, and supported the development of concrete proposals.

    Scottish Executive response to CETR recommendation

    The Scottish Executive supports the introduction of a system of registration. The Scottish Executive will commission a feasibility study to identify the most appropriate registration system, building upon experience elsewhere, including examining options as to whether such a system can become self-financing.

    At this time it is not possible to identify the long-term operational costs, including staff, required to administer such a scheme.

    CETR Recommendation 10. There is a need to enhance CPD (Continuing Professional Development) opportunities for practitioners and trainers and to put in place a system to give credit to CPD programmes.

    Consultation response

    A wide range of CPD priorities was identified. The most frequently cited were around aspects of management, partnership working, new policy developments and supervision/fieldwork teaching. This suggests a dual approach in terms of provision being met by local employers, with some issues the subject of national development support. The responses indicated strongly that CPD should be viewed as a priority area and that resource and access issues should be addressed. The responses indicate wish to see CPD programmes credit rated within SCQF.

    Scottish Executive response to CETR recommendation

    Investing in CPD is essential to the change agenda. We wish to see Community Learning and Development Partnerships devising and providing shared CPD opportunities for staff at all levels, including volunteer activists and to encourage the sharing of CPD investment. We suggest that consideration be given by local Partnerships to the establishment of local joint training committees to address common training issues and that FE/HE and work-based training providers be invited to join these. The Working Draft Guidance on Community Learning and Development proposes that measures to address the skills agenda need to be contained within all Community Learning and Development Strategies.

    The Scottish Executive agrees with the CETR that it is equally essential that community learning and development training providers, engaged in the teaching and fieldwork supervision of students, receive regular CPD opportunities. The Scottish Executive is particularly keen to see an extension of secondment arrangements whereby field practitioners are brought into the teaching process and lecturers are encouraged to update on field practice. We would wish to see the national body providing guidance on this to training providers and employers.

    We agree that CPD programmes, where at all possible, should be credit rated within the SCQF system. The QAA has indicated its keen-ness to work with CeVe on CPD/post-qualifying provision, with the application of credit rating of various specialist post-qualifying programmes. We would wish to see all endorsed CPD programmes being brought within the SCQF.

    CETR Recommendation 11. There is a need for a further study to clarify the extent of training need within the voluntary sector.

    Consultation response

    There was a general acceptance that training opportunities needed to be open to as wide a range of individuals and organisations as possible, alongside a recognition of the resource implications of this, particularly for voluntary/community groups. There was a significant current of opinion relating to the needs of a range of workers not included in the CETR, in particular volunteer staff. The consultation indicated significant support for further exploration of training issues, particularly as these relate to building access to the profession.

    Scottish Executive response to the CETR recommendation

    We accept that there is a need for a mapping and training needs analysis with regards to volunteer staff and staff from related disciplines and we shall commission such a study. We do not believe that there is a need for a further study specifically relating to the voluntary sector. However, we are concerned from the findings of the NTO, that a lower proportion of staff within the voluntary sector employed in community- learning and development-type roles, are professionally trained in this work. We would encourage voluntary sector employers to release their unqualified staff to obtain recognised training, through part-time work-based routes.

    The Scottish Executive will commission a mapping study and training needs analysis of volunteer staff and staff from related disciplines. Report to be completed by early 2004.

    CETR recommendation 12. There is a need for up-to-date information regarding the overall labour market and numbers trained.

    Consultation response

    This recommendation was not included in the consultation.

    Scottish Executive response to the CETR recommendation

    CeVe should liaise with employers, training providers and the successor body to PAULO regarding the collection and publication of annual data for the community learning and development labour market and numbers trained.

    We agree with the CETR that more robust data requires to be collected regarding the employment destination of students after graduation. CeVe should require all training providers to collect and submit annual information about numbers graduating and their employment destination after graduation.

    This information is, in part, collected by the NTO and will transfer to its successor body. To date, PAULO and CeVe have worked closely, with the former responsible for the collection of labour market information and for the setting of occupational standards. We would expect to see a close working relationship between the two bodies.

    The Scottish Executive will establish a National Development Project in 2003 on management information in community learning and development. This will aim to develop a coherent system for the collection and analysis of input, output, process and outcome data relating to community learning and development across Scotland.