The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Community Learning and Development? Its all CLD to me

The Scottish Government's Empowering Schools consultation proposes the creation of an Education Workforce Council, which could include CLD

Marion Allison, Head of the CLD Standards Council

Like many others, my January will be defined by New Year’s resolutions that I have made in an attempt to remedy the indulgences of the recent festive season. Over the course of the holidays I attended various events, reacquainting with old colleagues and being introduced to new ones. Inevitably, conversations turned towards work. The current Education Governance Review and the proposed formation of an Education Workforce Council that assumes the roles and functions of the Community Learning and Development (CLD) Standards Council, and GTC Scotland, were very much at the front of people’s minds. Having spent the majority of my career within the realms of education as a CLD professional, what struck me about many of these exchanges was the general lack of awareness and understanding of what CLD is and what it brings to the party.

In Scotland, CLD is embedded in statute and policy and is a professional practice that can be understood as educational interventions that are designed with and for people to advance learning and social development. Based on the principles of social justice, CLD practitioners generally apply an action research pedagogy of plan, do, review. This involves systematic, critical, self-reflective enquiry by CLD professionals to support learners both individually and collectively to make positive changes in their lives and in their communities. Fundamentally, the CLD process of working together can build social capital, enhance community and lead to action (praxis) based on experiences that support human flourishing and change.

Currently, every local authority in Scotland must secure and co-ordinate the provision of CLD activities which may be delivered by a multitude of agencies across the public, voluntary and private sectors, and are subject to the HMIe CLD inspection process. CLD services usually incorporate adult learning, community development and youth work services. Examples of adult learning may include literacy, numeracy, information technology, personal development, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and other capacity building programmes such as family learning and health education. Community development work involves growing the capacity of communities and neighbourhoods to develop and improve their impact upon planning, service delivery decisions and shared issues of concern. Programmes may include environmental projects, community development trusts progressing participatory budgeting schemes and asset transfer projects that, for example, tackle poverty, environmental or social issues. Youth work is the strand of CLD practice that teachers are most likely to be familiar with and takes place in a variety of settings ranging from the streets where young people congregate to schools, community centres and leisure facilities. Examples of youth work programmes may include sports, arts, social, political, economic and environmental activities. Practice in all these diverse settings is shaped by a shared value base, Code of Ethics and the CLD competence framework.

Throughout Scottish education the quality of CLD provision is a key factor in raising attainment

The field of action CLD professionals embrace is the social contexts that learners inhabit. The power of the resulting professional relationship, the CLD experience, can be transformative or protective for young people, learners and communities. Competent CLD professionals, similar to their peers in other disciplines, operate in the nexus between practice, research and policy and should be recognised as being reflective, confident practitioners that continuously develop their skills and practice.

Accordingly, throughout Scottish education the quality of CLD provision is a key factor in raising attainment, as CLD professionals support a range of qualifications and learning experiences in different settings. There is a graduate CLD workforce whose professional standards are set by the CLD Standards Council. The Council also supports volunteers who make a commitment to the Code of Ethics and competences and make a major contribution to service delivery. Established by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in 2008, the CLD Standards Council is governed by an Executive Committee and a Ministerially appointed Chair.

At present, the CLD Standards Council is a membership organisation responsible for the quality assurance and approval of CLD qualifications; CLD career-wide professional learning; and maintaining membership of the voluntary register. At the CLD Standards Council we want to continue to improve the professionalism of our members to increase the quality of learning experiences. We focus on equality, opportunities and empowerment to ensure the strongest possible gains for learners and communities. It is therefore important that growing synergies and interconnections across education and CLD support the best outcomes for all of our young people, learners and communities, whether in a school or a community setting.

As 2018 rolls on, I have no doubt that the conversations, debate and discussions regarding the proposals for an Education Workforce Council will continue at all levels. So, in true CLD style, I have now decided to review my New Year’s resolutions, and will try not to talk about work at social events.

About the Author

Marion has over 29 years’ experience in the sector as a Youth Work Manager, Associate Assessor for HMI and lecturer on the BA/ BA (HONS) Community Education Course at the University of the West of Scotland. Her current doctoral research focuses on young people, enterprise and social capital.

Teaching Scotland

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Editor contact: Evelyn Wilkins

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