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Working and learning together to build stronger communities Scottish Executive Guidance for Community Learning and Development


Scottish Executive Guidance for Community Learning and Development


We are using the term 'community learning and development' to describe a way of working with and supporting communities. We are encouraging our partners to use the term as well. We see community learning and development as being central to increasing the supply of 'social capital' - a way of working with communities to increase the skills, confidence, networks and resources they need to tackle problems and grasp opportunities.

We want community learning and development to bring together the best of what has been done under the banners of 'community education' and 'community development'. Its main aim is to help individuals and communities tackle real issues in their lives through community action and community-based learning. Community learning and development also supports agencies to work effectively with communities which will open doors to involvement in learning, action and decision-making.

Extract from a statement prepared by the Scottish Executive/COSLA working group (see Annex 1 for the full statement).

10 Community learning and development is learning and social development work with individuals and groups in their communities using a range of formal and informal methods. A common defining feature is that programmes and activities are developed in dialogue with communities and participants.

11 CLD approaches are now well established in youth and community work and in community based adult-learning services. This style of working has now become more familiar in other public service disciplines, such as health promotion, environmental protection, formal education, culture and leisure, economic development, social welfare and regeneration. We strongly support this trend and want to see Community Planning Partnerships using this approach across a range of programmes.

12 We believe that community learning and development activities should be based on a commitment to the following principles:

  • Empowerment - increasing the ability of individuals and groups to influence issues that affect them and their communities;
  • Participation - supporting people to take part in decision-making;
  • Inclusion, equality of opportunity and anti-discrimination - recognising that some people may need additional support to overcome the barriers they face;
  • Self-determination - supporting the right of people to make their own choices; and
  • Partnership - recognising that many agencies can contribute to CLD to ensure resources are used effectively.

1.1 National priorities for community learning and development

We are focusing our attention on achieving realistic results. Community learning and development has clearly identifiable outcomes, such as:

  • improvements in the effectiveness, range and joint working of community organisations;
  • increased confidence and motivation of excluded young people; and
  • improved core skills, allowing individuals whose previous experience of education has been negative to tackle important issues in their lives.

Extract from a statement prepared by the Scottish Executive/COSLA working group (see Annex 1 for the full statement).

13 We have identified three national priorities for community learning and development. These will contribute to our overall priorities of improving public services and promoting community regeneration, social justice, life long learning and active citizenship.

  • Achievement through learning for adults

    Raising standards of achievement in learning for adults through community-based lifelong learning opportunities incorporating the core skills of literacy, numeracy, communications, working with others, problem-solving and information communications technology (ICT).

  • Achievement through learning for young people

    Engaging with young people to facilitate their personal, social and educational development and enable them to gain a voice, influence and place in society.

  • Achievement through building community capacity

    Building community capacity and influence by enabling individuals, groups and communities to develop the confidence, understanding and skills required to influence decision making and service delivery. This could include enabling communities to provide and manage services to meet community needs.

The national priorities for CLD apply equally to urban and rural areas and are intended to focus on the needs of disadvantaged individuals and communities (see section 1.2). They are relevant to activities such as youth work, adult learning and community capacity building and reflect the priorities set out in the Executive's strategies on community regeneration, 4 lifelong learning 5 and education 6. The Partnership Agreement for a Better Scotland also commits Ministers to encourage the active participation of young people through, amongst other things, the development of a national strategy for youth work.

14 We want to see Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) setting clear and measurable targets for each of the three national priorities as part of their CLD strategy and Action Plans, and ensuring that systems are developed to monitor progress against these. The Scottish Executive is organising a National Development Programme between 2003 and 2006 to assist in this process. These targets should be nested within the performance monitoring and management framework being developed for community planning, and, where relevant, be related to outcomes set out in CPPs' Regeneration Outcome Agreements.

15 Examples of how local agencies and communities are already working to achieve these national priorities are given in the box below.

16 Communities Scotland is putting in place a programme of support for Community Learning and Development Partnerships, to assist them to focus on these national priorities as a means of addressing local needs and opportunities. Exchanging and disseminating good practice between areas and across sectors will play a key part in this.

17 Communities Scotland will be co-ordinating work within the Scottish Executive to ensure that there is continuing support for the work of CLD Partnerships at national policy level.

  • Achievement through learning for adults

Angus Council community education service has helped adults in rural communities within the Glens to develop new skills which have enabled them to adjust to social and economic change.

Local people identified computer skills as their immediate training need. Farmers needed to e-mail stock movement information and do their accounts. ICT skills were seen as essential to people looking for full time jobs and local families recognised their value in maintaining links with people who had left the Glens. Training was first delivered in local farmhouses and now takes place in a range of community managed venues. To date, 600 learners have participated in ICT training out of an adult population of 1,500.

From the outset, engaging with local people to develop computer training and community access to new technology was seen as a means to empower individuals and the community as a whole, rather than as ends in themselves.

Local management groups co-ordinate all aspects of the project, supported by a worker. Community led partnerships with a range of agencies have brought resources to the project and community action has successfully accessed funds to refurbish and, in one case build, community halls.

The project now covers a wide range of community activity reflecting a re-awakening of community consciousness and action across the Glens. Achievements include the community managed angusglens website, a renewable energy project and a community land purchase.

  • Achievement through learning for young people

North Lanarkshire Council have developed a Young People's Strategy involving agencies, youth workers and young people themselves. Community Education Teams and Social Work staff helped to build local Youth Forums, and young people from North Lanarkshire are active at national level, including as Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs).

After consultation the Strategy was approved by the Council in August 2000. Targets included setting up Youth Forums and a Youth Partnership. The focus has shifted from specific policy development to a commitment to youth participation and involvement which should encourage proposals by young people to tackle their key priorities.

Subsequent projects led and/or supported by young people have included an annual Youth Conference; young people being trained to survey youth views; a 'Peer Led Training Pack'; an international youth conference in Motherwell; national and international exchanges; proposals to recognise businesses and services that make a commitment to better treatment of young people; opening of a music studio; and production of a CD showcasing musical talent.

  • Achievement through building community capacity

One of the main outcomes of the North West Dumfries Communities in Partnership pilot is the North West Resource Centre.

Project partners include Careers Scotland, local churches and the local rural partnership, all of whom have a stake in the Community Resource Centre. The centre was previously a residential care home. Following closure of the building, community groups identified it as a potential base for expanding much-needed childcare, support and advice to small businesses and job creation, and to provide a meeting space for local organisations. It is now a vibrant multi-purpose resource offering a range of services and activities.

The total value of partners' contributions is 1.8m drawn from ERDF Objective 2, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway, NOF, Dumfries and Galloway Childcare Partnership and the local management committee.

The Community Planning Pilot was a catalyst for bringing community groups and voluntary childcare providers to the table with public sector partners to plan how best to use the building to improve services locally, meet the needs and aspirations of a range of community organisations and maximise resources identified through the pilot.

The project works with community organisations, the business community and residents to provide services and activities from the Resource Centre. These include: information and advice; 'wraparound' childcare, from 6 weeks to after-school provision; creating employment and training opportunities; boosting the local economy by assisting the development of new businesses; providing high quality, accessible, learning opportunities; and providing local health related services and encouraging positive health choices.

1.2 Targeting CLD resources to achieve social justice

We want to increase opportunities for individuals and communities who are excluded, improve public services where it will make most difference, and create a more socially just Scotland.

Extract from a statement prepared by the Scottish Executive/COSLA working group (see Appendix 1 for the full statement).

18 We see community learning and development as a key tool in delivering on our commitment to social justice. We want Community Planning Partnerships to target their CLD capacity to support strategies aimed at closing the opportunity gap, achieving social justice and encouraging community regeneration.

19 The Scottish Executive's statement on community regeneration Better Communities in Scotland: Closing the Gap7 made clear the importance of community learning and development in building skills and confidence in disadvantaged communities to promote social inclusion. It pledged the Executive to work with national and local partners to build a shared vision for CLD and to make sure local people were able to engage effectively with community planning processes to improve service outcomes in disadvantaged communities. As well as working with communities, it called for work to build individual skills, particularly literacy and numeracy, both directly and through a development centre within Communities Scotland to support people providing these services.

20 CLD makes an important contribution to preventing anti-social behaviour. By providing people, including young people, with lifelong learning opportunities aimed at helping them fulfil their individual potential and make a positive contribution to their communities, CLD can help prevent anti-social behaviour. By building community confidence, skills and understanding CLD can develop the social cohesion required to ensure that anti-social behaviour does not take a hold.

21 In many parts of Scotland poverty and disadvantage are concentrated in particular neighbourhoods, but other individuals and groups can also be affected. CPPs should identify how disadvantage impacts locally and agree responses that aim to close the opportunity gap between disadvantaged communities and the rest of the population. The resources provided to support CLD, and how they are targeted, should be underpinned by needs assessments undertaken with local communities and informed by use of statistical and other information.

22 The development of Neighbourhood Statistics will help CPPs to identify disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities 8. CPPs will also want to refer to the work being developed by the Scottish Centre for Research into Social Justice 9.

23 We accept that the priority given to providing CLD support to deprived neighbourhoods and individuals means that less disadvantaged communities may receive a lower level of CLD resources.

24 The statutory framework for equal opportunities should also guide Community Learning and Development Partnerships in allocating and prioritising resources.

25 The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 put a responsibility on CPPs to mainstream equal opportunities in the planning and delivery of services. This requirement to prevent, eliminate or regulate discrimination applies to community learning and development. CPPs should also have regard to other specific requirements that arise through the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Race Relations Act 1976 (amended 2000) as these relate to community learning and development.

26 Further guidance on mainstreaming equalities is contained in Guidance on Equalities, Best Value, Community Planning and Power of Well-Being which was produced by COSLA in consultation with the Scottish Equalities Co-ordinating Group 10.

Stirling Quality Action Group - Engaging with people with learning disabilities

Following concerns that people with learning disabilities who had moved out of hospital did not feel part of the local community, the former Scottish Office, Key Housing Association and Enable developed the 'quality action initiative'.

In a pilot project in Stirling a staff member was seconded to meet with managers of mainstream facilities to explore how people with learning disabilities might feel more included. It became obvious that people with learning disabilities themselves needed to meet the service managers. A group was formed and one of their first activities was a tour of local community centres.

The group were clear about the outcomes they were seeking. They wanted to:

  • make changes to the way services are delivered;
  • make changes to the way they are treated, both by services and by the community at large;
  • have a voice in all the areas that impact on their lives; and
  • advocate for people who remained in hospital.

In order to achieve these outcomes, the group became constituted and attracted resource from the Community Fund, Lloyds TSB, and European Social Fund amongst others. It is now managed by a committee of 23 adults with learning disabilities, supported by Key Housing and Stirling Council Community Services. The group has provided an opportunity for personal growth. Individuals who started out scared to voice an opinion and struggling to manage their money have learnt to chair meetings and to manage large budgets.

The group employs its own staff, delivers on service level agreements with Stirling Council, manages premises and is part of the consortium which runs the Scottish Centre for Learning Disability. It combines providing services with lobbying on behalf of people with learning disabilities at a local and national level.