About CLD


What is Community Learning and Development?


In June 2012, the Scottish Government published Strategic Guidance for Community Planning Partnerships: Community Learning and Development. This states that “the purpose and principles [of CLD] are embodied in the competences and ethics for CLD practice as set out by the CLD Standards Council for Scotland”.

The Strategic Guidance sets out what the Scottish Government sees as the purpose of CLD and what it wants CLD to focus on. The purpose is described as follows:

“We see [CLD] as empowering people, individually and collectively, to make positive changes in their lives and in their communities, through learning.”

The focus of CLD, which the Strategic Guidance puts into the context of the national Performance Framework, is identified as:

  1. Improved life chances for people of all ages, through learning, personal development and active citizenship;
  2. Stronger, more resilient, supportive, influential and inclusive communities.

The previous guidance on CLD, issued to Community Planning Partnerships in 2004, included a definition which continues to be widely accepted by major stakeholders:

“Community learning and development (CLD) 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…[CLD’s] main aim is to help individuals and communities tackle real issues in their lives through community action and community-based learning.”

This is consistent with the Strategic Guidance issued in 2012 and it remains an important reference point.

From our committee members

“CLD as a process engages with people in communities around their issues and concerns and encourages both personal and community development.”

“CLD treats people as the experts in their own lives and trusts them to come up with solutions to the issues they face.”

“CLD is where I see a constant commitment to social justice.”

What does it do?

The Strategic Guidance emphasises that CLD “is delivered in diverse settings and sectors, by practitioners with a wide variety of job titles, working with people of all ages”, and that “all these partners should aim to deliver CLD outcomes through:

  • Community development (building the capacity of communities to meet their own needs, engaging with and influencing decision makers);
  • Youth work, family learning and other early intervention work with children, young people and families;
  • Community-based adult learning, including adult literacies and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL);
  • Volunteer development;
  • Learning for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the community, for example, people with disabilities, care leavers or offenders;
  • Learning support and guidance in the community.”