First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, met representatives from the learning sector to thank them for their efforts during the pandemic.

The meeting consisted of a representative from, Colleges, Early Years, high schools, primary schools and CLD. Colleagues shared their experiences of working in challenging circumstances caused by Covid-19. Key messages shared were the commitment of education colleagues to supporting learners and students, genuine interest in wellbeing, support and improving the learning experiences whilst constrained due to Covid-19 restrictions. Even though the group worked across very different areas they all agreed that among the challenges there has been a lot to celebrate in the last 12 months in relation to the dedication and commitment of staff.

The CLD representative Jennifer Nicol from East Renfrewshire was asked to share her experiences of facilitating adult learning opportunities in advance of the meeting and she highlighted areas such as prioritising wellbeing, access to resources and information requirements. Jennifer highlighted that many learners face multiple barriers including low levels of language and literacy, digital exclusion and isolation. Learning and support was adapted to be inclusive dependent on learners’ skills, equipment and confidence. Connecting Scotland was highlighted as playing a key role with staff accessing training as Digital Champions whilst offering tremendous support to learners through the provision of equipment, connectivity and learning.

Positive relationships with the community have been strengthened with learning continuing to be offered, including partnerships with local Colleges which have allowed qualifications to be completed during lockdown. CLD staff have been creative, resourceful, enthusiastic and dedicated to maintaining links with the community whilst learning has been a lifeline for so many people during this difficult time.

The First Minister extended her thanks to all CLD services across Scotland and the hope is that more opportunities will take place for education sectors to come together to share experiences and network in the future.

Photo from FM’s Twitter feed.

Mental health information and support – SAMH


At times over the last 12 months we will all have felt changes in our mental health and witnessed changes from those around us.

SAMH (The Scottish Association for Mental Health) has a range of information and publications to help you support your own mental health and those around you by increasing knowledge, understanding and highlighting positive coping mechanisms. There are also a range of supports and services available at national level if you experience levels of distress.

When does low mood become depression?
We all feel low sometimes, but these feelings may become a problem if they’re interfering with your life, don’t go away after a few weeks or keep coming back.
SAMH’s information covers what you need to know:

Anxiety is something we can all experience at times. It’s okay to feel this way but it’s important to remember that there’s lots of things we can do to look after ourselves.
SAMH’s information guide covers what can help reduce anxiety to a manageable level:

Stress is a normal part of life, but sometimes it can become overwhelming and difficult to cope with.
SAMH’s resource explains what might cause it and how it can affect you. It includes information about ways you can help yourself and how to get support:

5 Ways to Better Wellbeing
We all have mental health, just as we have physical health, and it’s important that we take the time to look after it.
Evidence suggests there are five ways to improve our mental wellbeing:
• Be active
• Connect
• Learn
• Give
• Take notice
Find out more:

We all feel angry at times – it’s part of being human. But anger becomes a problem when it gets out of control and harms you or others. SAMH’s resource is full of practical suggestions as well as info on support available for you and your loved ones:

National Distress Brief Intervention Service
Since June 2020 third sector partners have been working closely with NHS24 to provide a national Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) service. By calling 111 and accessing the NHS24 mental health hub any adult age 16 and over in Scotland has access to this service. The DBI programme is built on the vision of connected compassionate support with the national programme consisting of two parts, with part 1 supported by NHS24 to help ease any individual. If further support is required they are referred to the DBI service with a promise of contact within the next 24 hours to start providing support.
Part 2 is provided by commissioned and trained third sector staff who contact the person and provide problem solving support, wellness and distress management planning, supported connections and signposting. Support is offered for up to 14 days.
Call NHS24 on 111 to access this service.

Adult Achievement Awards

Adult Achievement Awards

Adult Achievement awards give learners the opportunity to gain a qualification for the learning they have undertaken in a variety of places:

  • In the community
  • At work
  • In the home
  • In college
  • Through volunteering

The awards are currently available on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) at Levels 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. There are no entry requirements for the awards. There are a range of organisations delivering the awards including local authorities, colleges and third sector organisations. The Adult Achievement Awards have been developed during Covid-19 to be delivered and assessed online so learners can still complete qualifications in spite of restrictions.

Newbattle Abbey College is the national accreditation centre for the Adult Achievement awards. The college produces Learner Guides, Reflective Journals and Tutor Guides and organises training programmes for tutors. It also provides administrative support and quality assurance advice. We recently had Sandra Grieve from Newbattle present to our Adult learning webinar in March 2021 to highlight the relevance of Adult Achievement Awards through an online approach– see her slides here:

For more information on Newbattle Abbey College: Adult Achievement Awards | Newbattle Abbey College

Case Study

Recently we highlighted the work of The Adult Achievement Award Partnership in Dundee and Angus as they creatively adapted the learning to be delivered online. There have been a number of learners who have completed the qualification through distance learning supporting their Health and Wellbeing during lockdown as well as allowing them to complete a qualification. The partnership consists of a number of partner agencies who work together to support and develop the delivery of the award, including a tutor network. The organisations include Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action, Dundee Carers Centre, Dundee City Council CLD, Angus Council Planning and Communities, LEAD Scotland and Alexander Community Development.

See our national Improvement Hub for more information on how the delivery of Adult Achievement awards has been adapted through Covid-19 by Dundee Carers Centre and Brechin and Montrose Communities Team. Adult Achievement Awards – Covid-19 response, developed for online delivery | Practice exemplars | National Improvement Hub (