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working and learning together to build stronger communities

Subtitled 'Working draft Community Learning and Development Guidance', this document was published in January 2003. It sets out Scottish Executive thinking around the provision and development of community learning.

contents: preface · foreword - margaret curran ·  introduction · defining community learning and development · community planning · joining up the planning process · quality, profile-raising, professional development and management information · annex one - statement prepared by the scottish executive and cosla working group · annex 2 - glossary · how to cite this piece

 


This document contains a number of classic 'New Labour' themes such as 'joined-up thinking' and targeting resources towards concerns around social inclusion and is shot through with the managerialism that has blighted other social initiatives. However, it does at least rework older concerns with community education in the 'new' language of community learning; and allows for work beyond targeted groups. This stands in contrast to English initiatives such as Connexions.


Foreword

Last June we published our policy statement 'Community Learning and Development: The Way Forward'. As a key part of our strategy for building stronger communities, we announced that we would be issuing new guidance to local authorities and their community-planning partners on community learning and development. We have prepared this working draft guidance following consultation with CoSLA and others and it is now being published for wider consultation. The guidance is intended to support the draft Community Planning Guidance that was issued on 28 October, in preparation for the Local Government in Scotland Act.

The guidance contains a number of important challenges for Community Planning Partnerships and those public and voluntary sector organisations which support community learning and development. A central theme is our concern to see partners targeting their support more upon disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities, and those who are at risk of becoming disadvantaged. To achieve this we have identified four national priorities which we want to see all partners tackling.

We also want to see community learning and development playing a more central role in supporting the involvement of communities, including young people, in the community planning process. In this regard the guidance strengthens the link between community learning and development and community planning at all levels. The guidance provides advice on local strategies and plans for community learning and development and their relationship with other planning processes, and on community involvement, quality and evaluation issues, profile-raising, professional development and management information.

The guidance is a practical working document designed to help Community Planning Partnerships over the next four years. It is intended to give a new focus and priority towards strengthening communities across Scotland, building on the strong foundations of joint working in this area that has been built up since 1999.

Margaret Curran, MSP
Minister for Social Justice
January 2003

 

 

Introduction

1 In June 2002, Ministers announced that they would be issuing Community Learning and Development Guidance to replace Scottish Office Community Education Circular 4/99. This working draft guidance has been prepared by consulting the Scottish Executive and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) Community Learning and Development group. It is intended to support the working draft Community Planning Guidance that was issued for consultation on 28 October 2002, in preparation for the Local Government in Scotland Act.

2 We are committed to making sure that statutory and voluntary-sector partners, and local communities, have the opportunity to shape this guidance as it is developed. In preparing this working draft guidance, we held two pre-consultation meetings with organisations involved in community planning and Community Learning Partnerships.

3 The working draft guidance is set out in four parts.

It also contains a statement prepared by the Scottish Executive and CoSLA group that outlines in more detail the contribution that community learning and development makes towards building stronger communities, together with a glossary of the main terms used.

4 The draft guidance contains consultation questions which we would be grateful for your comments on. Between January and April 2003, we have asked the Centre for Community Learning and Development at Communities Scotland to organise a consultation process, including a series of consultation meetings around the country. You can e-mail your comments to PeoplesL@communitiesscotland.gov.uk by 25 April 2003.

1. Defining community learning and development

a We outlined our policy regarding community learning and development in June 2002 (see www.communityplanning.org.uk/documents/CLDWayForwarddocMay30FINALAPPROVED.pdf for more details). Community learning and development is a way of listening and of working with people. We define this as informal learning and social development work with individuals and groups in their communities. The aim of this work is to strengthen communities by improving people's knowledge, skills and confidence, organisational ability and resources. Community learning and development makes an important contribution towards promoting lifelong learning, social inclusion and active citizenship.

b Youth work, community work and community-based adult-learning services have been involved in this work for a long time and are at the centre of the dedicated expertise in this area. Other public-service disciplines, for example, in health promotion, environmental protection, formal education, culture and leisure, economic development, social welfare, and rural and urban regeneration, have been using community learning and development styles of working for a number of years. We strongly support this trend and want to see Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) using this approach more across all programmes concerned with building stronger, healthier, more equal and sustainable communities.

c A community learning and development approach is based on a commitment to the following.

d Community learning and development contributes to strengthening social capital by improving the knowledge, skills, confidence, motivation, networks and resources that the individuals and groups in a community have. It is also concerned with tackling real issues in people's lives, for example, better health, education and transport, more jobs and less crime, and in making sure that public services work with people in tackling these. Community learning and development for example improves:

So, it can make a significant contribution to reducing social exclusion and to closing the inequalities gap.

National priorities for community learning and development

e  We want to see CPPs targeting their community learning and development support on disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities, and those who are at risk of becoming disadvantaged. In setting these priorities, we want to emphasise that we do not want to restrict community learning and development support only towards disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities. Our aim is that all communities across Scotland have access to community learning and development support if they need it. However, we want to see CPPs giving more attention to closing the inequalities gap, and tackling social justice and community regeneration priorities.

To achieve this, we have identified four national priorities for community learning and development, which apply equally to urban and rural areas. These cover action around youth work, adult learning and community capacity-building, and the fourth relates more generally to getting communities involved in community planning and service delivery. Our priorities are as follows.

g We want to see CPPs setting clear and measurable targets for each of the aims as part of their Community Learning and Development Strategies and Plans. We will offer CPPs further advice on performance targets for the main aims.

Questions for consultation

Please give us your comments on the following.

  • The emphasis we give to prioritising support towards disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities.

  • The four national priorities we propose.

2. Community planning

a This guidance sets out how important it is for Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) to use a community learning and development approach in delivering the main public-service and quality-of-life outcomes. The guidance is intended to support the Working Draft Community Planning Guidance (see http://www.communityplanning.org.uk/legislation.html ) and, in particular, the requirements for CPPs to increase the involvement of communities in shaping planning and service-delivery decisions and outcomes.

b Community planning is about public, private and voluntary agencies working together more effectively to provide good-quality public services and, in doing so, making sure the communities who are affected by planning decisions and who might use the services are part of the decision-making processes. Under section 16 of the Local Government in Scotland Bill, Community Planning Partnerships must involve communities in the planning process.

c Since 1999, agencies who are responsible for putting into practice community planning have been using a community learning and development approach at both strategic and local level. We see community learning and development as an effective way of working with people, through building their knowledge, skills and confidence, in order to:

d The guidance uses the term community learning and development rather than just community learning. This term is now being more widely used at national and local level. It includes the community education and community development ability of public and voluntary agencies.

3. Joining up the planning process

a Planning in relation to community learning and development should sit firmly within a community-planning framework, and fit in with the wider community planning process and related strategies and development plans of partner agencies. We need to make sure that there is a link between strategic and local action plans relating to community learning and development support services and other service development plans, within a wider community planning framework.

b The report prepared by HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) in 2002 on putting into practice community learning plans (see www.scotland.gov.uk/hmie/tclp/tclp-00.htm ) confirms the value of partner agencies working together with local communities to agree strategies and plans for community learning and development. Community learning and development strategies and plans should be developed as part of the wider community planning process. That said, we do not want to lose the important work that has been developed since 1999 regarding setting up Community Learning Partnerships and producing identifiable joint plans. We see advantages, not least for local communities, for the continued publication of information relating to community learning and development.

c We are especially keen to see a closer relationship between action planning related to community learning and development, New Community Schools' development plans, health improvement plans, children's plans, community guidance strategies and other planning processes relating to important areas of environmental, cultural, social and local economic development. Similarly, we want to see more community learning and development in the service development plans of other CPP agencies.

d In recent years, some Community Learning Partnerships have developed separate youth strategies. We would expect to see a link between these and Community Learning and Development Strategies, which deal with youth work issues. Similarly, since 1999 a number of Community Learning Partnerships have tried to tackle a wider lifelong learning agenda that includes both formal and informal provision. Again, we would expect to see a close relationship between community learning and development partnership planning and local strategies relating to lifelong learning. (See the forthcoming Scottish Executive five-year strategy for lifelong learning).

Community Learning and Development Strategies

e The Community Learning and Development Strategy is a jointly agreed statement to which all Community Planning Partners should contribute and be committed to. Whether as stand-alone documents or as part of a wider community planning document, they should:

In terms of content, they should:

f Community Learning and Development Strategies should cover a three-year period starting on 1 April 2004. The strategies should be reviewed regularly. They should be publicly and widely available.

g We will not have to see the Community Learning and Development Strategies and annual progress reports. However, these strategies and reports, together with local plans, will have to be made available to local communities and for HMIE inspection purposes.

Community Learning and Development Plans

h The Community Learning and Development Partnership must decide how many Community Learning and Development Plans are needed. There should be clear links with local and thematic Community Plans. As at strategic level, these plans may be included in the wider Community Plan at this level or form separate documents.

i The following offers a framework for local and thematic community learning and development planning. Community Learning and Development Plans are intended to identify and deal with community needs, issues and priorities. This assessment should form the basis for communities and partner agencies to set out their shared agenda for change, developed into practical three-year work plans relating to the area or community of interest covered. They should be reviewed and updated regularly. These plans are joint work plans within which communities and agency partners agree how community learning and development inputs, processes and outputs will be used to achieve the agreed and desired outcomes. Community Learning and Development Plans should be a regular reference point for the community and agency partners to guide their daily work and to track progress.

j Community Learning and Development Plans should:

In terms of content, they should:

k The Community Learning and Development Partnership should consider carefully how best to tell the community about their work. Whatever approach is used, the information contained in the Community Learning and Development Plan should be easily accessible to the community, and the Partnership should provide regular reports on progress. They should be publicly and widely available at community level and on the Internet. This should include translating summaries in minority languages and providing the information on tape if appropriate.

Selecting Community Learning and Development Plan areas and themes

l In light of our concern to focus community learning and development support more on disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities, and those at risk of becoming disadvantaged, we accept that some communities may not need a wide range of community learning and development support.

m The revised Deprivation Index and the Neighbourhood Statistics Project will be available in 2003/2004 to help us identify disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities. 2003/2004 will be the baseline year for tracking change over time (see www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/neighbours/tables/neighbours.asp www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/neighbours/tables/index.asp ). This type of information needs to be set alongside the concerns and priorities, hopes and aspirations expressed by communities themselves with regard to the specific issues that they see as being of importance and around which they might want to take action. Community learning and development practitioners have a lot of experience in developing community profiles, village appraisals and so on that bring together community and agency views. It is important to stress that Community Learning and Development Plans should not just focus on problems. They should build on the vision and strengths of people, young and old, and their communities.

Community involvement

n The Statutory Guidance accompanying the Local Government in Scotland Bill has highlighted the expertise of community learning and development practitioners with regard to community involvement. With the pilot work carried out since 1999 on the development of Community Learning Strategies and Plans, CPPs have an enormous experience base upon which to build. Particularly at a local and thematic level, skilled community learning and development practitioners must make sure that they not only consult the public but also involve people, young and old, who are less well organised and confident to take part in shaping the plans.

o With the introduction of a Community Planning approach and extended requirements to support community involvement across a broad range of service planning and delivery, the expertise of community learning and development practitioners will be needed more and more. We recognise this in the fourth of the national priorities. Supporting community involvement in wider planning and service delivery processes is only one function of community learning and development. This raises issues about:

Experience from the Community Learning Strategies and Plans shows that CPPs will need to deal with these issues consistently to avoid repeating consultation and participation exercises and to make sure that they have the community learning and development ability to do the job well.

Community Learning and Development Partnerships

p We are keen to see the positive experience that has arisen since the strategic and local collaborative partnerships for community learning were set up further developed. We believe that these partnerships have greatly improved the profile of this work and increased the investment available for informal learning and social development within communities.

q Under the Local Government in Scotland Bill, councils, health boards, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the police and fire boards must take part in the community planning process. As described earlier, community organisations will be expected to be involved. The success of community planning will of course depend on more people getting involved and the guidance also gives examples of other public organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage, colleges and universities that might be involved in the process. We would expect any public organisation that has an interest in building community capacity, learning and social development would join the Community Learning and Development Partnership at strategic level and give staff time and investment to local action planning and delivery. Besides the local authority, this would certainly include formal education, health promotion and education, environmental education, crime prevention, rural and urban regeneration organisations, Careers Scotland and local economic development agencies.

r The voluntary sector is a major provider of community learning and development support, and will need to be represented at both levels. The diversity of the voluntary sector, and the reality that many voluntary organisations are national rather than local, has sometimes proved difficult in terms of the sector's ability to be as actively involved as it would wish. Again, local circumstances will differ, but we would expect that the Council of Voluntary Service, Local Volunteer Bureaux and umbrella organisations for community development, youth work and adult learning will be represented at strategic level. All voluntary and community organisations supporting community learning and development in the prioritised areas or community of interest should also be actively involved as partners. It should be recognised that the involvement of voluntary and community sector organisations does not necessarily mean that they have to go to meetings. The involvement of the voluntary and community sectors should be in line with the Scottish Compact principles (see www.scotland.gov.uk/library/documents-w3/comp-00.htm ).

The role of the local authority

s As with the previous Community Learning Strategies and Plans, we expect that the local authority will provide the lead role, through its community learning and development service, with regard to setting up and maintaining partnership working at both levels. This is likely to include providing a secretariat for the strategic, local and thematic partnerships. We will ask the Chief Executives of local authorities to make sure that a chief officer is responsible for maintaining the partnership.

t While the local authority's main community learning and development support provider is likely to be responsible for making the strategy and plans easier to put into practice, it is important to stress that other council services should also be involved. The overall ability of local authorities to support community learning and development will draw upon the contributions from services such as education, planning, social work, community services, environmental protection, consumer services, housing, arts and leisure and libraries.

u Under the Community Planning provisions in the Local Government in Scotland Bill, all community-planning partners are expected to support the local authority. In particular, the partners must:

We expect the partners to be represented on Community Learning and Development Partnerships at a senior level to make sure that the people represented by the partnership are able to drive things forward.

Community and user representation on strategic and local and thematic partnerships

v Community and user interests should be involved at a strategic partnership level. These should represent the communities covered by community learning and development plans. At the local and thematic level, such interests could be represented by, for example, local youth councils and forums, community councils and community associations. We would expect the agency partners, in particular the local authority, to support the representation of communities and users.

w Issues relating to maintaining motivation and involvement in strategic and local partnerships were raised at the pre-consultation meetings to prepare this guidance. We propose that Community Learning and Development Partnerships meet every three months to monitor progress and review the partnership strategy. At the Community Learning and Development Plan level, these are intended to be operational groups, bringing together staff from the partner agencies within interdisciplinary teams, together with community and user interests. So, they are likely to meet on a more regular basis to plan and review joint work.

The relationship between Community Learning and Development Strategies and Plans

x It is at the Community Learning and Development Plan level, that is, within local and thematic communities, that the informal learning and social development work mainly takes place and where the work with communities is at its most dynamic. It is essential that the practical work at this level influences the way the strategies are set. Within the broad framework of national and CPP priorities, there will be local diversity in terms of what support will be needed and how. The key is the local outcomes that have been agreed between the partners and communities. While we want to see all partnerships tackling the four national priorities, CPPs will have their own priorities, as will local communities. Community learning and development strategies need to reflect local as well as national priorities.

Questions for consultation

Please give us your comments on the following.

  • Whether the guidance provides an effective basis for making sure there is a link between Community Learning and Development Planning, Community Planning and other development plans.

  • How strategic and local partnerships are made up and sustained.

  • Whether the guidance provides an effective basis for making sure communities and users are represented on strategic and local partnerships.

  • The relationship proposed between planning and priority setting at strategic, local and thematic level.

4. Quality, profile-raising, professional development and management information

Quality and evaluation issues

a All those involved in community learning and development have an interest in making sure that everyone involved has high-quality learning and development opportunities. Quality assurance and improvement depend on thorough and organised self-evaluation of the quality and outcomes of the main areas of work. Effective self-evaluation by partners should be an ongoing process. The information collected from this process provides a context for agency and partnership planning aimed at improving quality. Community Learning and Development Partnerships should use the evidence collected through self-evaluation to report to communities regularly on progress made towards achieving targets and improving the quality of services provided. Community Learning and Development Plans should help to evaluate quality using the framework outlined by HMIE in How Good Is Our Community Learning and Development? (see www.scotland.gov.uk/hmie/CL-HGIOS/cldfull%20html/cldfull.pdf ).

b How Good is our Community Learning and Development? has been designed to support self-evaluation by providers of community learning and development, and to be used when inspecting local-authority services. This is supported by Learning, Evaluation and Planning (LEAP), the planning and evaluation framework that was developed to help Community Learning and Development Partnerships plan for achieving and assessing desired outcomes. Community Learning and Development Partnerships may want to use the LEAP framework as a way of planning and monitoring progress on national and local priorities (see www.scdc.org.uk/leap/index.htm ).

c HMIE will continue to evaluate the quality of local authority community learning and development services through its inspection programmes. The main purpose of inspections is to promote quality through external evaluation. They will:

HMIE are developing community learning and development inspections to reflect the Community Planning context and to maximise their contribution to improving quality.

Profile-raising

d We have emphasised the need for regularly involving the community in planning and monitoring the outcomes of community learning and development. Experience from the Community Learning Plans since 1999 has highlighted the importance of profile-raising with elected members and the public. Regular reporting through the local media on the work of the partnership and, in particular, celebrating the achievements of individuals, groups and communities is a proven way of raising awareness of the value of community learning and development. Partnerships should consider joint branding of programmes and services.

Investing in staff skills

e Investing in the skills of public service staff is an important part of our lifelong learning strategy. At local level, we are keen to see Community Learning and Development Partnerships supporting the skills agenda for staff at all levels, including volunteer staff and community representatives. We would encourage the development of joint training programmes and, where appropriate, sharing CPD investment. Community Learning and Development Strategies should include targets relating to skills training. Partnerships should consider setting up joint training committees to tackle common training issues. We will be working with the National Development Centres and local Partnerships during 2003 to identify appropriate CPD support in relation to the national priorities.

Management information

f The Scottish Executive and CoSLA Community Learning and Development working group is currently working on developing more effective management information systems for this area. We want to be able to assess more thoroughly the contribution of community learning and development to achieving outcomes. In April 2003, we will be launching a National Development Project that will develop common data definitions and management information systems with Community Learning and Development Partnerships.

Questions for consultation

Please give us your comments on the following.

  • The proposed arrangements for the quality assurance and evaluation of the work of the community learning and development partnership.

  • Continuing professional development priorities.

  • The ways in which partnerships could jointly collect management information.

ANNEX ONE: Community learning and development: Working and learning together to build stronger communities

Statement prepared by the Scottish Executive and CoSLA working group

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.

The activities of youth work, community work and community-based adult learning are at the centre of community learning and development. We want to emphasise that these activities are delivered by skilled people with a wide variety of job titles, working in different sectors and in a range of agencies, and to encourage joined-up working across all of these.

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. The figure below shows how we see the different strands of community learning and development activity working together to build stronger communities and contributing to our policy aims.

Community Learning Partnerships in each local authority area have already made real progress in using the multi-agency, cross-sector approach we see as being essential. The Partnerships have developed Adult Literacy Action Plans which is an important step forward.

We are looking to Community Learning and Development Partnerships to play the central part in making sure that:

Through community planning, we aim to make sure that agencies work with communities to improve their wellbeing. Through community learning and development, we aim to make sure that communities can be full partners in this.

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

We are committed to measuring the effect of community learning and development, in ways that focus on what makes a difference for communities, so that we know how well we are doing and can plan ahead realistically.

We believe communities and a wide range of agencies have a real role to play in the success of community learning and development. It is crucial that the people who are most closely involved in community learning and development - practitioners (paid or unpaid), managers and their agencies - work with us to promote a shared vision for community learning and development and the contribution it can make to building better communities in Scotland.

ANNEX TWO - Glossary

Community or communities
This can be either a 'geographic community' (a group of people living in one area) or a 'community of interest' (a group of people who share a common characteristic or identity, such as ethnic-minority communities).

Community-based adult learning
Informal adult education available in a community setting rather than in an institutional context such as a college.

Community budgeting
This is a process where information about the spending of partner organisations in particular communities is collected and made available. The information can then be used to involve communities in the main decisions about services.

Community capacity-building
Measures that strengthen the collective ability of a community.

Community learning and development
Informal learning and social-development work with individuals and groups in their communities.

Community Learning and Development Strategy
A statement that highlights the joint aims of community learning and development partners over a three-year period across a local authority area.

Community Learning and Development Plan
A joint three-year work plan for a specific local geographic area or community of interest agreed by the community learning and development partners.

Community planning
This is a strategic process local authorities use with the community and other agencies to plan, provide and promote the wellbeing of the community.

Community regeneration
This is the process of tackling poverty, deprivation and social exclusion in a particular geographic area or with a particular group of people.

Deprivation index
This index is put together using indicators measuring characteristics of deprivation, such as health, education, poverty and unemployment.

Neighbourhood statistics
This is a set of data split into very local levels.

Youth work
Informal learning, and personal and social development work with young people.

Outcomes
Outcomes are what we expect to achieve and the effect of what we do.

Social capital
This is where a community has the skills, resources, networks, opportunities and motivation to work together effectively to promote its own wellbeing.

Social justice
This is the equal and fair distribution of social values such as freedom, income and wealth, and the opportunity to take part in society

How to cite this piece: Scottish Executive (2003) Working and learning together to build stronger communities. Working draft Community Learning and Development Guidance, Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. Available in the informal education archives: http://www.infed.org/archives/gov_uk/working_together.htm.

This piece has been reproduced here by the informal education homepage under licence from from the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland. The informal education homepage holds a licence to reproduce public service information and another to reproduce Parliamentary material.

First placed in the archives: October 2003