Mince pie or Chocolate Log? Blog from Dr Marion Allison

plate of mince piesMince pie or Chocolate Log?
The question that reflects the CLD competences over 2018.

Like every workplace across the land, the CLD Standards Council cupboards are full of sweets, cakes and a traditional Christmas treat that invites debate; good old mince pies. Some people like them, some prefer chocolate logs, or some refrain altogether.  Whilst this might appear to be inane, workplace chat, the underpinning attributes of this discussion reflect some of the key matters that have influenced Community Learning and Development in Scotland over the course of 2018.

Firstly, before you buy mince pies, it is advisable to know and understand the community in which you work. In 2018 this competence inspired the CLD Standards Council to get to know its workforce.  In partnership with Education Scotland, Rocket Science were commissioned to gather views and experiences from CLD practitioners, volunteers, employers and stakeholder organisations in order to better understand current practice across the country. There were approximately 1300 online responses to the survey and over 50 follow-up, in-depth interviews. Results are expected in Spring 2019 and will inform future CLD workforce services.

Once mince pies are purchased, it is important that you build and maintain relationships with the individuals and groups involved.  This competence influenced the CLD Standards Council’s engagement with key Scottish Ministers.  Deputy First Minister, Mr John Swinney reiterated the Scottish Government’s support at our lengthy meeting in June.  We have also had the opportunity to meet with the new Minister for CLD, STEM, HE & FE,  Mr Richard Lochhead MSP, and look forward to working with him.  The continued implementation of the CLD Standards Council’s communication strategy has resulted in improved engagement with members via social media, i-develop, newsletters and of course attending and delivering learning events across the country.  One notable outcome has been increased demand for CLD learning materials; the refreshed Competent Practitioner Framework is flying off the shelves.

Having engaged and built relationships with your fellow cake-eaters, it soon becomes obvious that you need to provide learning in a range of contexts.  Some people like to eat alone, some like group outings to the coffee shop, or some prefer gathering in smaller groups around the kitchen. This year providing learning in a range of contexts consisted of financially supporting CLD Networks for the 3rd year running.  With a general focus on CLD standards, this money has allowed Members to attend and arrange learning events closer to home in subject areas that they influence and design. In March, Members overwhelmingly rated the annual conference, which was held in Dundee. Next year’s event will be on Wednesday 27th March 2019 in Glasgow so remember to save the date.

You should know, that facilitating community empowerment amongst colleagues may result in people challenging accepted methods of baking and creating bespoke recipes.  Practising this competence led to the CLD Standards Council having a seat at the National Education Leaders’ Forum.  Our attendance at the Scottish Learning Festival in September allowed us to ask International Council of Education Advisors to give due consideration to CLD in its work to influencing system change in Scotland.  In response to requests from Members, there have also been a number of professional discussions with the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives and employers across sectors regarding the recognition of CLDSC membership.

One matter that will always cause debate amongst the mince pie makers is how to best organise and manage resources. This competence was of central importance throughout the year.  2018 began with a proposal that the CLD Standards Council would co-produce and create an Education Workforce Council alongside colleagues from the General Teaching Council Scotland.  Our Members responded to the consultation in their droves and by June, the Next Steps paper made it clear that this idea was off the table. The change in direction allowed the CLD Standards Council to get back to the day job and secure, strengthen and grow the organisation.  Accordingly, recruitment to the Committees was successful in September, with Members that practise in a range of contexts from across the country choosing to get involved. For the wider sector, another outcome of the Next Steps paper was the responsibility for CLD policy moving from Education Scotland to the Scottish Government, with Members contributing to the transition process.

Overall, it’s working collaboratively that makes the mince pie / cake eating experience truly joyful. Sharing preferences, ideas and laughing with colleagues is what makes it all worthwhile.  Indeed, it is this competence that embodies the very essence of the CLD Standards Council. This year marked new and refreshed partnerships with key agencies across the United Kingdom and beyond.  Having worked in close partnership with the International Association of Community Development, the CLD Standards Council was delighted to launch the International Standards for Community Development at the World Community Development Conference in June.  In September, we were once again delighted to welcome Professor Maki Hiratsuka and her colleagues from Tokyo. Their interest lies with our CLD standards and professional practice.  As such, Approvals work has led to enhanced relationships with the college sector and the completion of approvals and mid-term reviews across professional and CLDSC Standards Mark routes.

When the mince pies have been eaten and plates are full of crumbs, that’s when people evaluate and inform future practice.  The pies could have been sweeter, we should have stuck to chocolate logs are statements that will inform future choices.  The life-long learning principle is evident as people’s tastes in mince pies and chocolate treats change and develop over time. Member engagement and continuous evaluation of our work, scope and ambitions led to a number of new initiatives this year, including the CLD Christmas Lecture. The aim of this event is to highlight CLD research in Scotland.  Over 70 Members attended the inaugural event in Glasgow. I was deeply honoured to be invited to present my doctoral research into Young People, Enterprise and Social Capital and sincerely thank Members for the warm reception and helpful feedback.  As the Year of Young People draws to a close no one can doubt that the CLD: youth work sector embraced and delivered impactful work with young people across the country, and so we are pleased to have sponsored the Scottish Youth Work Research Steering Group. Their recent report on the Impact of Community-Based Universal Youth Work in Scotland is a must read for every CLD Standards Council Member. This year highlighted quality across the sector. From SCVO, COSLA Youthlink, Herald Society Awards and everything in between; we are absolutely delighted that CLD and our Members were recognised at the highest levels and rewarded for their work.  Congratulations to nominees and winners in all categories and we look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Fundamentally the mince pie, chocolate log debate comes down to valuing self-determination and choice. For us, people are choosing to join the CLD Standards Council; by the dozen.  Our membership is continuing to grow and in one week alone we received 54 applications!

For the sake of team harmony it’s important that everyone is included in the Cake debate and has an equitable piece of the pie. The development of the CLD Standards Council relies on inclusion, particularly in times of change.  In September this year we bid a fond farewell to Mr Ashley Pringle, who was our appointed Chair for 6 years. It was a privilege to work with Ashley who steered, supported and challenged the Council in its development. Mr Mike Naulty is the Interim Co-Chair and recruitment for Ashley’s successor is now underway. Across the sector Mr Jim Sweeney M.B.E. retired from Youthlink Scotland to be succeeded by Mr Tim Frew.  Presently, Jim will continue as Co-Interim Chair of CLD Standards Council and we very much look forward to continuing our partnership with Tim. Mr Robert Hynd moved on from CLD Managers Scotland and we are delighted to be working with his successor, Ms Avril Nichol on all things CLD.  Our thanks must also go to colleagues across Education Scotland, Jackie Halawi, Brian Taylor and Gayle Gorman to name a few.

It goes without saying that the CLD Standards Council would be nothing without its Members. The team and I are indebted to the Chairs, Committee Members and the hundreds of Members across the country who shape, promote, contribute and support our Council.  On a personal note I would like to extend my thanks to everyone for your well wishes on completion of my doctorate.  Working within this vibrant sector makes it all worthwhile.

So now the cakes are finished, we look forward to the new year ahead.  Budget constraints continue to challenge yet Community Learning and Development prevails, grows and inspires thanks to the commitment of our Members. As CLD policies are refreshed and the new CLD plans unfold, maybe next year, for once, the CLD sector will be able to have its cake and eat it!

Until then I wish you all a joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year!