What is Community Learning and Development (CLD)?


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.

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

CLD programmes and activities are developed in dialogue with communities and participants, working particularly with those excluded from participation in the decisions and processes that shape their lives.

Through working in these ways, CLD extends the reach of democracy and widens its scope.

Values, ethics and competences

CLD is a value-based practice. CLD professionals have committed themselves to the values of self-determination, inclusion, empowerment, working collaboratively and promotion of learning as a lifelong activity.  See the full statement of values.

The Code of Ethics for CLD developed by the CLDSC working with the field, enables practitioners to apply these values to the decisions they need to make.

The CLD Competence framework describes the knowledge, skills and attitudes required in CLD practice.

The Values, Code of Ethics and Competences provide the basis for CLD professional practice that happens in varied settings across the public and third sectors.

The Statutory Basis

The main statutory basis for CLD is provided by The Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013 .
Other relevant legislation includes the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act, 2015.

Purpose of Community Learning and Development

The Scottish Government issued Strategic Guidance for Community Planning partnerships: Community learning and development  in 2012. 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.”
It further  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 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.

Why employers need professionally qualified CLD practitioners

The CLD Standards Council continually promotes the essential role of professional CLD practitioners, and this is all the more important as resources get ever-scarcer.
We have drawn together a paper that sets out the ways in which professional CLD practitioners are not just valuable but indispensable. We are making this available for you to use in your own context.
Access the Paper

Quotes 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.”