Independent Review of Community Learning and Development: Call for Evidence - Practitioners

Closed 3 Mar 2024

Opened 22 Jan 2024

Feedback updated 24 May 2024

We asked

We asked for your views on Community Learning and Development (CLD) in Scotland. We asked learners, potential learners, practitioners and stakeholders of CLD what they think is working well and what could be done better.

We did this to help the Independent Review of CLD provide information and recommendations to the Scottish Government relating to measuring outcomes delivered through CLD, delivering positive outcomes and improved life chances for marginalised and vulnerable learners and a suitably professionalised CLD workforce equipped to deliver high quality outcomes for learners.

You said

We received a total of 1140 responses on Citizen Space, of which 717 were from learners and potential learners and 423 were from practitioners.

Awareness and visibility of CLD was highlighted as a key issue. Respondents suggested that awareness can be limited by CLD being a poorly defined sector and having insufficient policy profile. There were calls for better communication to improve awareness of CLD provision, and especially around the positive impacts being delivered.

Poor awareness of CLD opportunities was also highlighted as a particular issue for people who want to access learning. Respondents suggested that access can be easier for those who have already engaged with CLD and who are aware of local opportunities. Reaching those who might benefit from CLD but who have not yet engaged with services remains a challenge. 

Flexibility of learning provision was seen as a key strength for CLD, especially in terms of making opportunities as widely accessible as possible. However, respondents referred to multiple barriers to access. These included access to and cost of transport, digital exclusion, and maintaining CLD alongside other time commitments. Funding challenges were also highlighted as impacting the CLD workforce and learner journey.

Practitioners were clear about the positive outcomes they deliver for learners, and the contribution that CLD makes to national policy priorities. However, there was a perception that CLD is undervalued. Respondents wished to see change to increase the profile and status of CLD across the wider learning and skills sector.

Learners reported that they felt well supported by CLD practitioners throughout their learning. This included support to build on their current learning, and specifically around transitions during their learning journey. Practitioners referred to a range of methods used to assess the effectiveness of outcomes, but saw scope for this to improve. It was suggested that consideration should be given to data collection around national outcomes against a set of agreed KPIs.

We did

The Scottish Government is grateful to those who took the time to provide a response to these consultations. The responses have been helpful in informing the review report and recommendations to the Scottish Government, which will be published in due course. We have published all non-confidential responses to the review. The analysis of these responses will be made available in the overall Evidence Report, which will be published alongside the review report and recommendations. Direct links to these will be added below once they are published.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Community Learning & Development (CLD) is a field of professional practice that enables people to identify their own individual and collective goals, to engage in learning and take action to bring about change for themselves and their communities.

It uses a range of formal and informal methods of learning and social development with individuals and groups in their communities.

With a focus on removing barriers to learning for the most marginalised people within society, high quality CLD practice creates opportunities for people who:

  • have few or no qualifications
  • require support to engage in learning opportunities
  • face personal, social or systemic barriers in accessing learning and meeting their personal learning goals

CLD learning can take the form of Youth Work activities, Community-based Adult Learning, Family Learning, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), numeracy and literacy classes.

It can be delivered in a variety of environments including schools, colleges and community facilities. Learning is individually tailored to meet specific needs to help remove barriers to learning and work for young people, adults and families. Delivery is offered by practitioners on a one to one basis or within a group depending on the needs of the individual.

There are many actors across the CLD delivery landscape including local authorities (who have a statutory duty to plan CLD provision), third sector organisations, voluntary organisations, colleges, schools and health providers at a national, regional and local level. However, the bulk of professional CLD provision is funded by local authorities in an attempt to meet the needs identified through the CLD planning process.

Independent Review of CLD

The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Veterans has asked for an independent review of Community Learning & Development in Scotland. The aims of the Review (Terms of Reference) include:

Consider the extent to which CLD is currently delivering desired outcomes and how it is placed to contribute towards the recommendations set out by Professor Ken Muir, Professor Louise Hayward and James Withers for developing an education and skills system that is fit for the future.

The review will make recommendations on where changes may be required to deliver those outcomes through CLD practice in the context of wider education reform, whilst ensuring sector readiness to meet future known or unknown challenges, whilst being mindful of current challenges around public finances.

More specifically, the review will:

  • consider the extent to which CLD is contributing to delivering positive outcomes in line with Scottish Government priorities, including examination of the respective roles and responsibilities of those involved;
  • provide information and recommendations relating to:
    • effective and consistently measured outcomes delivered through CLD and reported across the sector. This includes data on the CLD workforce, engagement opportunities and outcomes for learners.
    • delivering positive outcomes and improved life chances for marginalised and vulnerable learners in communities, in the context of wider education reform and public finance constraints.
    • a strong and suitably professionalised CLD workforce equipped to deliver high quality outcomes for learners.
    • this will help us to understand the breadth and impact of CLD on learners in Scotland’s communities, and where services support outcomes for marginalised learners.

Useful information about responding to this consultation

As you complete your response, each page will provide the option to 'Save and come back later' at the bottom. This means you can save your progress and return to the consultation at any time before it closes. If you don't use this feature and leave the consultation midway through, your response will be lost.

Once you have submitted your response, you can enter your email address to get a pdf copy of your answers sent to you.

On the 'About You' page at the end of this consultation, organisations will have the opportunity to tell us more about their work and/or how their response was informed.

After the consultation has closed there will be a few months delay before any responses are published. This is because we must check any responses to be published abide by our Terms of Use.

A analysis report will usually be published some months after the consultation has closed. This report will summarise the findings based on all responses submitted. It will be published on the Scottish Government website and you may be notified about it if you choose to share your email address with us. You can also join our consulation mailing list where we regularly list newly published analysis reports (as well as new consultations).

Why your views matter

In addition to hearing what learners and potential learners think about CLD, the review is also keen to hear from others with an interest in CLD. This may include CLD workers and volunteers, third sector organisations, local government decision-makers or budget-holders, or other service provider e.g. employability support, benefits or money advice, educator, mental health support worker, GP, etc.


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