Tag Archives: Adult Learning

Big CLD Blether

John Galt, CLD Education Officer reflects on the Big CLD Blether

Note: This is a post from back in the summer which we have transferred from our old CLD blog.

I’ve been absolutely blown away by the amazing response of the community learning and development (CLD) sector to the Covid-19 crisis. While the lockdown obviously led to the abrupt suspension of most face to face CLD activities, from the start we’ve been hearing examples of how community workers, youth workers, adult educators and family learning workers in both the public and third sectors have continued to support learners and communities with dedication, creativity and kindness. Across Scotland, CLD practitioners have been supporting community initiatives to deliver food, medicine or provide vital social contact to vulnerable families and isolated people; engaging with young people through imaginative digital youth work; adapting learning activities to be accessible online, by phone or through resources to use at home; and helping to extend the reach of school and community hubs for children of key workers and vulnerable families. Many CLD providers are now playing a key role in helping to develop local and national recovery plans.

So I was delighted to help to facilitate The Big CLD Blether  – a virtual discussion with over 90 CLD practitioners and managers across Scotland which was jointly hosted by Education Scotland and The CLD Standards Council for Scotland on 28th May. The session was one of a series held throughout May to support practitioners from across the education system. (#ESBigBlether)

One of the challenges in our diverse sector is finding common digital platforms to use. We went for Google Meet for The Big CLD Blether which seemed to work well for most people.

The discussions were based around four themes and participants chose which ones to take part in. We were lucky to have 3 or 4 experienced practitioners in each themed discussion who shared their experiences and addressed questions from other participants. There were a lot of issues raised in each of the four discussions. Notes from the session will be available on iDevelop but here are some of the points raised:

Theme one: Operational challenges for CLD providers

Participants recognised the good work being done to support the changing needs of learners and communities. CLD organisations are also dealing with significant challenges though. Many 3rd sector organisations are facing extreme financial pressures and some staff had been furloughed. In some areas, local authority CLD staff had been redeployed. Many have been realigning what they do to engage learners and communities remotely while trying to address the clear digital inequalities that exist in our communities. The move to digital is a steep learning curve for many and so effective professional learning for staff is key. There is a strong recognition of the need to support the health and wellbeing of learners and staff.

Theme two: Engagement and learning – what’s working well?

Examples of what is working well were threaded through each of the discussion groups.  We heard about the wide range of digital platforms being used by CLD providers to engage young people, adult learners and community groups. We heard lots of examples of practitioners being flexible and endeavouring to start where learners are at online and we were reminded of the Digitally Agile CLD principles and the great resources out there, such as those on digital youth work from YouthLink. There were frustrations at the limitations that some organisations placed on using some platforms, although there was a recognition of the increased importance of digital safety. We heard that Youth Awards like Hi-5 and Saltire are being widely used to recognise young people’s volunteering during the crisis and that as lockdown eases, there is an increasing focus on supporting young people through street work.

 Theme 3: Supporting the health and wellbeing of CLD participants and staff

CLD practitioners can help participants to address the impacts of staying at home and feelings of grief, worry, stress or loneliness. We heard some of the feedback from the Lockdown Lowdown study which led to discussions on how can we best support the mental wellbeing of young people now and as lockdown continues to ease. Meanwhile feedback from the CLD Standards Council practitioner survey highlighted that many workers were dealing with stress themselves. Effective CPD and peer support are increasingly important priorities for practitioners.

Theme 4: Looking forward – the role of CLD in the recovery phase.

CLD practitioners have important roles to play – in education recovery plans and in wider community renewal. There are many opportunities for CLD to contribute including outdoor learning, blended learning with schools, supporting parents and families, youth awards etc. broad range of services, showcase ourselves. CLD workers will also have key roles to support community groups and organisations to rebuild and help to rebuild partnership working and collaboration to ensure that resources are deployed to best effect. Much of the focus for recovery planning will be at the local level and it is important that CLD partners are involved. There will also be an increasing need for CLD to support wider regional and national collaboration to support ‘building back better’ efforts. Participants were keen to maintain some of the new processes that have been put in place during lockdown.

Feedback about The Big CLD Blether was positive. Participants told us that they enjoyed re-connecting with CLD colleagues and discussing experiences and  pieces of work going well.

Both Education Scotland and the CLD Standards Council are keen to keep the discussions going with further CLD ‘blethers’ so please watch this space!

 

CLD Response to Covid-19: East Renfrewshire Council

Community Learning and Development (CLD) response during COVID -19 lockdown

 East Renfrewshire Adult Learning & Adult Literacies Services

Continuing our case studies from the West Region on the amazing response of CLD during COVID-19 lockdown, we now want to highlight work from East Renfrewshire Adult Learning & Adult Literacies Services.

During lockdown, East Renfrewshire Council transformed their service to meet the needs of adult learners during the COVID-19 lockdown crisis.  Staff created online learning provision for those who had digital access, whilst recognising that many of the adult learners only had phones, with and without internet access, and that had to be taken into account to ensure the support remained inclusive.  The work that was carried out is a great testament to the CLD staff who have been creative, resourceful and enthusiastic about maintaining links with the community.  East Renfrewshire CLD have positive partnerships and these have been important throughout. In particular, for people in receipt of benefits as some were worried that their money would be affected if they weren’t online and seeking work.  Learning has been a lifeline for almost all adult learners in relation to their wellbeing.  Some people didn’t want to continue with learning but wanted an opportunity to stay connected with the team and/or their group.  CLD staff have been able to provide this support through phone calls and online forums.

There has been a strong focus on wellbeing during this difficult time. Over the past year or so, CLD Adult Learning and Adult Literacies staff had been evaluating the wellbeing provision and had implemented changes including the creation of wellbeing hour and development days for staff. All of the resources and activities developed for staff could be tailored for adult learners throughout our provision.  Wellbeing is at the heart of everything that East Renfrewshire CLD offer whether it’s a wellbeing group or an IT group. From the initial meeting through to the guidance and exit processes a learner centred approach is taken. Staff have benefitted from CLPL opportunities through partnerships within the authority and through membership of the West CLD Alliance, including the NHSGG&C Healthy Minds partnership.

 SQA Wellbeing units

Working in partnership with West College Scotland, CLD staff began looking at the course content and descriptors of the SQA Wellbeing units and were very keen to deliver these.The courses would be beneficial for individuals in relation to their own wellbeing but also transferrable to work related goals. In August 2019, we advertised the first unit, Exploring Wellbeing; SCQF: level 4. Referrals for this course came from within the service, Family First, RAMH and other partners. The course was popular and successful with adult learners positively evaluating the course and successfully achieving accreditation.  The group progressed to the next unit, Improving Wellbeing SCQF: level 4 in January 2020. When we were informed of lockdown the group were genuinely disappointed and hoping for a quick return. This group had already created a WhatsApp group to stay connected out with the course times.  This allowed staff to connect with the group during lockdown to make sure they had all of the information and support they required.

Some people chose not to continue learning during lockdown for various reasons, however, staff kept in contact with them at their request, as they were feeling isolated. For the online learning we found a platform that would work for everyone and provided digital support to ensure everyone could participate.

Working towards achieving accreditation provided a valuable focus for learners during this time. The assessment had been introduced a few weeks into the course and this helped the learners to know what was expected and allowed them to continue with their project from home. They received support from the Adult Learning Services CLD worker and the West College Scotland lecturer; including phone calls, emails and text messages, as well as the online video meetings. In addition to achieving a qualification, the main benefit for the group has been keeping people connected. Three of the group members live by themselves and keeping in touch with others has been a huge help throughout this difficult time. Positive quotes posted on the group chat, comments from other peers and just being able to chat to others has been a huge motivator for the learners and staff.  Working in partnership with West College Scotland, we have submitted our proposal for the Group Award: Mental Health and Wellbeing at SCQF level 4, due to start in September 2020 based on evaluations and consultations with adult learners.

 Staff Feedback

It was such a privilege as a CLD Worker to be working with this group. They were so unique in many ways, not only because of the pandemic. They were such a caring group and so enthusiastic, right from the very start. They were also very appreciative of anything I helped them with. They genuinely cared for each other and formed a bond, with not a single person left out. They were such an inspiration to me.  It reminded me of the reason why I enjoy my job!

 Learner Quotes

  • It helped me gain confidence and be more relaxed to be myself.
  • It was very easy to contribute in class but also during lockdown through emails and the WhatsApp group.
  • It has made me think about the way I was living my life. It was too complicated and too fast. Now I stop and think before I do anything.
  • I get lots more exercise now. I didn’t used to do as much but now I feel better for getting out and walking.

 

CLD Response to Covid-19: North Lanarkshire Council

Community Learning and Development (CLD) response during COVID -19 lockdown

North Lanarkshire Council – Adult Learning Delivery

Continuing our series of case studies from the West Region on the amazing response of CLD during COVID-19 lockdown we now want to highlight work from North Lanarkshire Council CLD Adult Learning Team.

Across North Lanarkshire Council the CLD Adult Learning Team has continued delivering their CLD service throughout the COVID lockdown period. Initially the CLD staff kept the lines of communication open and established the best way to keep in touch with all learners considering the range of devices being used and the level of learners’ digital involvement. The CLD – Communities and Adult Learning Team looked to ensure that fundamental needs were covered such as information on what was going on, access to food and prescriptions and support for those in isolation.

The speed of response by CLD staff was most impressive and all learners had established contact very early on. The flexible approach took into consideration the position of each individual learner. e.g. WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages, Zoom – all mediums were utilised depending on what learners were best able to engage with reflecting the social practice approach. There also had to be consideration of learners that did not access social media or were not online in anyway. Some learners were contacted by phone and door step drops of learning packs and resources if required. The focus was prioritised around learning and health and well-being.

Highlights:

  • Learning Packs – ALN & ESOL

(Measuring, puzzle books, writing activities, Summer Reading Program)

(ESOL- photo dictionaries, SQA materials, Worksheets)

  • Pivot Garden – Updates posted on progress of newly completed garden and seedlings. Learners were able to access the garden individually and do some upkeep and gardening. Seedlings ‘adopted’ by Community Worker and when established delivered to learners for individual planting.

  • Wednesday Walk – Digital Health Walk – regular timetabled walking activity with theme, promoted via text and social media. Encourages learners to be more physically active and raises awareness of their mental wellbeing. Participants take photos on a positive theme – recent topics have included trees and bees and encouraging mindfulness. Participants then share their photos on social media, increasing their sense of connection. Nature themed topics have been extended with links to materials and activities from Cumbernauld Living Landscapes to encourage further learning.
  • Facebook pages for groups – Motherwell has 3 private Facebook groups set up: Gaelic Culture, Northern Lights Discovery and COLTS Discovery Group.  The learners are able to be in contact with one another and share photographs of their current activities and trips from last term. The Gaelic Culture Group have now set up Facebook Room within their private group; every Tuesday from 1-3pm they meet up for a video chat, practise their language skills together and do a short quiz. One group member who had been housebound over the last term has enjoyed being able to re-join her group online.  The Discovery learners have all kept on track with their activities during lockdown and one learner has just achieved her Silver Award. Wishaw Family History Group have a private Facebook Groups which allows the learners to keep in touch and share photographs of their current family tress and any progress made on their work. The group ‘meet’ weekly for a Facebook video chat: this allows them to socialise with one another, check in with the Support Worker for welfare purposes and share any new findings. Not only has the Facebook group decreased social isolation it has also allowed for learners to learn new IT Skills and explore avenues on social media platforms that they didn’t know existed!
  • ESOL Online -Aimed at ESOL learners and resettlement refugees. Delivered by Community workers, Support workers and Social Work. Ongoing WhatsApp groups where work is posted and a group for information sharing on Covid developments in Arabic & English. Weekly video calls and lessons for each learner. Difficulties were /are mainly which platform to use and longer term the need for a VLE set up for learners to submit work and track progress. Staff need for training in the use of digital online learning platforms and managing of social media.

CLD Response to Covid-19: South Ayrshire

South Ayrshire Council ESOL Service

Continuing our case studies on the amazing response of CLD during COVID-19 lockdown, we now want to highlight work from South Ayrshire’s ESOL service.

South Ayrshire Council English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) staff within the CLD service, identified several challenges as lockdown was introduced. Firstly, many staff were temporarily redeployed to co-ordinate free-school meal provision, and work alongside staff from other council services to deliver almost 2,800 meals a day. Secondly there was a clear need to maintain contact with the more vulnerable learners including those with mental health issues; and, provide continuity of support for learners working towards accreditation. Thirdly there have been technical challenges presented by staff remote working; upgrading IT infrastructure; and, securing online access for learners in rural areas.

ESOL tutors adapted to provide support for learners via video lessons and online tutorials, and also continue to provide English classes for learners who returned to their country of origin prior to lockdown. ESOL learners were involved in the planning of the learning sessions – including selecting times of delivery and identifying a digital platform they were comfortable using, thus reducing digital and financial barriers.

Tutors routinely translate and provide learners with the latest Government guidelines on shielding, social isolation and keeping safe, as well as all Police Scotland notices, and information issued by schools. Staff maintain a reflective log to capture activities, as well as issues that may be noted under duty of care, such as supporting a learner subjected to domestic abuse and signposting to Women’s Aid.

Local authority officers shared insight to some of the impacts to date. ESOL learners have positively benefited from continuing support provided by their tutors – receiving advice and guidance on aspects of their life affected by the lockdown. For example, signposting new families arriving in Scotland to register for free school meal provision.

Moving to a digital platform enabled the ESOL tutors to work with smaller groups based on the level of learning. This has resulted in increased confidence, with learners creating their own peer support groups out with the sessions. Subsequent peer support networks within the ESOL community have continued to develop. For example, with the support of the ESOL staff, learners now have a support network to source halal food from Glasgow.

Virtual participation is also helping to reduce barriers for parents/carers of school aged children. The ESOL team provides activities for children while their parent/carer takes part in a virtual ESOL session. There is also anecdotal evidence that parents/carers and their children are supporting each another with their learning. Learners have reported that the virtual ESOL support has been vital in keeping up to date with schools and nurseries.

More broadly, staff report positive impacts from working in multi-disciplinary teams delivering bespoke services during lockdown – with strengthened relationships and improved understanding of substantive roles. In addition, there have been positive benefits in staff undertaking professional learning and research while working at home.

South Ayrshire council ESOL service identified a number of areas for consideration looking forward: Issues arising from gaps in learning, social isolation and poor mental health will require sufficiently well-resourced CLD services to aid recovery. The Ayrshire ESOL partnership comprised of South, East and North Ayrshire Council ESOL services and Ayrshire College, has established a model to maximise learner engagement and progression – there may be merit in further examining how to apply this model to other learning pathways – with CLD provision as an entry point.

For more information check out @CLDSouthAyr on twitter

CLD Response to Covid-19: Dumfries & Galloway Lifelong Learning

Dumfries & Galloway Lifelong Learning Team

Continuing our case studies on the amazing response of CLD during COVID-19 lockdown, we now want to highlight practice from Dumfries & Galloway’s Lifelong Learning Team.

The team adapted quickly by transferring programmes to online platforms. This quick response ensured they could continue to offer learning opportunities in:

  • Adult learning
  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Adult Literacy and Numeracy
  • Family Learning,
  • Digital,
  • Accreditation Learning opportunities

The team adopted a social practice approach to choosing which digital platforms to use. They surveyed learners to establish which digital platforms they already had access to, and were comfortable using. The team then began a steep learning journey of their own as they quickly developed their own skills to use these platforms effectively, and safely. This resulted in the team being able to offer these learning programmes on a range of platforms.

To help remove barriers to digital participation within vulnerable groups, the team provided a number of solutions including the lending of equipment, with additional set-up support. For example, iPads that were purchased for the Syrian Refugee families were delivered to homes fully set-up.

The programmes don’t just focus on learning and skills development. The team recognised how key it was to support the health and wellbeing of their learners in such challenging times, something that is especially important in the rural geography of Dumfries and Galloway.

The team secured funding from several charities/organisations which enabled them to provide learning packs with a health and wellbeing focus to over 200 vulnerable adult learners. The strong relationships the team already had with learners enabled them to customise the packs to meet individual needs. For example, some contained pots and seeds to support the delivery of relaxing STEM learning activities. The team delivered the packs to learners’ doors. Due to the geography of the area, many vulnerable learners were living in very isolated conditions and this was their only face to face engagement. Having this socially distant contact enabled them to have a general conversation about how they were coping. Many were living in very challenging circumstances and the CLD Team were able to support them with a range of issues including crisis grant applications, housing issues, accessing free school meal entitlement and additional shielding packages.

      

                               

The support provided by the team didn’t stop over the summer. The success of the adult learning packs helped to secure further funding from the National Lottery for 200 family learning packs which the staff delivered to the doors of families across Dumfries and Galloway over the summer holidays. These packs provided a range of fun learning activities for the family to do together. They also contained basic resources to create their own activities, for example pencils and paper. Again, this provided an opportunity for a face to face check in with families and ensure they were accessing all the support they needed. For example, they were able ensure that ESOL families were accessing Scottish Government Covid-19 Guidance. For families where the parents/carers were isolating, they were help to make additional deliveries of learning resources for the children to ensure they could continue to learn together over the summer break.

 

          

The children were very excited to receive their parcels!

In addition to delivering the packs, the team also ran a virtual summer programme for 4 weeks in July. Each day of the week had a different theme- Motivate Monday, Try it Tuesday, Walk Wednesday, Take a trip Thursday and Fun Friday. Activities included a virtual live life well course for adults, cooking, virtual Peep sessions, themed walks, quizzes, STEM sessions, photography workshops, family challenges, dance and yoga, crafts and games and more. This ensured that there was a wide variety, something for everyone.

The programme was delivered through social media platforms the families were already accessing. Participation rates in the summer programme were very high with most activities reaching an audience of 2, 000 and some reaching nearly 5,000. Feedback from the participants was very positive with many sharing photos and stories of them engaging in the activities  on their own social media feeds.

The move to a digital platform has enabled the team to expand their social media presence. One Lifelong Learning account alone went from just over 1,000 followers to 8,000 with posts reaching over 1.5 million accounts, including many other learning providers and families in the UK engaging with our content.

The impact on the team, both in terms of their practice and confidence levels has been significant. Staff who were nervous about introducing digital platforms into their practice have reported that the peer support colleagues and partners provided has been invaluable, as they develop their skills and approaches. The team are continuing to develop their digital skills to enhance their learning offer, not replace face to face delivery. This will ensure that moving forward, learners now have even more opportunities to engage in a blended learning model which meet their needs.

You can find out more through their social media channels: LIfelongLearningDGC Facebook  @DgcLearning

Adult Learners Week 2020

5th – 11th September Adult Learners Week 2020 in Scotland. We want to highlight all of the fantastic work that Community Learning and Development (CLD) do to deliver high quality adult learning opportunities across a wider variety of areas. These include social isolation, health and wellbeing, digital inclusion, English as a Second Language (ESOL) , literacies, numeracy/maths, family learning, community inclusion, progression pathways, financial inclusion, personal development and active citizenship. 

  The thing that surprises most people about CLD is the variety of roles and diversity of learning that is covered. People who work in CLD often have a variety of disciplines to cover and ensure they are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide these. The CLD Standards Council is the professional body for people who work or volunteer in CLD. 

 Adult Literacy & Numeracy in Scotland follows a social practice model. It looks at the skills, knowledge and understanding that a learner has to build on and relates learning to a context within personal, family, working or community life. Provision is offered in a learner centred way and can use real life resources such as bills, letters, newspapers or other household resources to support learning to have a real life context. 

Community based ESOL is delivered by CLD teams across Scotland. Scotland has supported the Syrian Resettlement Scheme in recent years which also links to ESOL provision and wider CLD activity in communities although this can look different in different local authorities.  ESOL learners can come from any country in the world and groups can be made up of a variety of languages and cultures. 

 Community based adult learning in CLD can cover a wide variety of learning opportunities that are intended to be informal, relaxed, friendly opportunities that aim to break down barriers for learners who are hardest to reach. These can be adults with multiple barriers such as mental health, physical health, learning difficulties, alcohol and drug addictions, long term unemployment and social isolation among others. 

CLD Adult Learning covers a variety of areas such as confidence building, health issues, bereavement, life changes (such as divorce, redundancy) focussing on areas of high deprivation where poverty impacts on households and families. 

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

 The focus of CLD in all areas of adult learning are improved life chances for people of all ages, through learning, personal development and active citizenship resulting in  stronger, more resilient, supportive, influential and inclusive communities. 

 The Education Scotland CLD Team works to support the CLD sector in delivering high quality learning opportunities relevant to the communities that are in need. The team supports professional learning across different areas of adult learning in CLD and supports the creation of new policies and strategies. They are keen to share and promote interesting practice that is of interest delivered by CLD workers who work tirelessly to improve the communities and individuals they work with.   

Follow @edscotcld for more information

Adult Learning – National Organisations

Here at Education Scotland we have been promoting Adult Learners Week and would like to take this opportunity to highlight the wide range of third sector organisations that also contribute to Adult Learning in Scotland. We do not have space to name everyone but here is a few of the national organisations. We know there are also lots of local community organisations too. Please tag us at @edscotcld  and we are happy to promote any adult learning happening out there! 

 Or feel free to tag Education Scotland CLD Officers @LauraMc50938627 @soozeeps @MacdonaldDehra

 There are a wide range of third sector organisations that contribute to Adult Learning…below you can read about some of the main organisations in Scotland and access their websites and twitter to learn more 

 WEA – Workers Education Association (Scotland) 

The UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education in England and Scotland. Founded in 1903, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is a charity dedicated to bringing high-quality, professional education into the heart of communities. With the support of nearly 3,000 volunteers, 2,000 tutors and over 10,000 members, they deliver friendly, accessible and enjoyable courses for adults from all walks of life. 

 They have a special mission to raise aspirations and develop educational opportunities for the most disadvantaged. This includes providing basic maths, English and IT skills for employment; courses to improve health and wellbeing; creative programmes to broaden horizons and community engagement activities that encourage active citizenship. WEA’s members also help support their mission and campaign for adult education. 

www.wea.org.uk/ @WEAScotland

 Learning Link Scotland 

Learning Link Scotland was established for and by third sector adult learning organisations. Learning Link’s vision for Scotland is for a learning nation where Scotland is not only the best place in the world to grow up in but also the best place to learn. 

 At the heart of their vision is that adult learning in Scotland will be recognised by all as a central element of personal and community empowerment. They strive to ensure that people will have access and equal opportunity to strong, independent and vibrant Third Sector adult education, and that organisations work in partnership with others to fulfil lifelong learning, social inclusion, and democratic aspirations. 

Their purpose is to ensure Third Sector adult learning organisations work together to create a successful, dynamic and forward-thinking Scotland.

www.learninglinkscotland.org.uk @LearningLinkSCO 

 Lead Scotland 

Lead Scotland is a charity supporting disabled people and carers by providing personalised learning, befriending, advice and information services.  They have projects across Scotland and a national helpline and information service.  The local services are community and home based, one to one or in small groups so that people have the right support to learn and participate. Lead Scotland support people to build a bridge to reach their ambitions of personal development, learning, volunteering and work. At a national level, they provide information and advice on the full range of post-school learning and training opportunities, as well as influencing and informing policy. 

www.lead.org.uk @leadscot_tweet

 Scotland’s Learning 

Scotland’s Learning Partnership is the national partnership for adult learning bringing together the interests of learners and providers in Scotland. By working to develop equality in the relationship between learners and providers we aim to: 

  • Advocate the common interests of learners and providers to key policy makers and politicians 
  • Promote non-formal adult and family learning through the Adult Learners Week and Family Learning Week campaigns 
  • Create, design and deliver innovative projects that reach the most excluded groups 

www.scotlandslearning.org.uk @SLPLearn