John Galt, CLD Education Officer, reflects on the Big CLD Blether
I am absolutely thrilled with the amazing response of the Community Learning and Development (CLD) sector to the Covid 19 crisis. While the blocking apparently resulted in most face-to-face CLD activities being abruptly stopped, we’ve heard examples from the start of how community workers, youth workers, adult educators and family learners continued to work in both the public and third sectors Learners and communities with commitment, creativity and kindness. Throughout Scotland, CLD practitioners have supported community initiatives to provide vulnerable families and isolated people with food, medication or vital social contacts. Commitment to young people through imaginative digital youth work; Adapting learning activities to be accessible online, by phone, or through resources for home use; and help expand the reach of school and community centers for children of key workers and vulnerable families. Many CLD providers are now playing a key role in developing local and national recovery plans.
I was very happy to help you with this The big CLD Blether – A virtual discussion with over 90 CLD practitioners and managers across Scotland, hosted jointly by Education Scotland and the CLD Standards Council for Scotland on the 28thth Can. The session was part of a series held in May to support practitioners from across the education system. (#ESBigBlether)
One of the challenges in our diverse industry is finding common digital platforms. We chose Google Meet The big CLD Blether that seemed to work well for most people.
The discussions were based on four topics and the participants chose the topics in which they wanted to participate. We were lucky enough to have 3 or 4 experienced practitioners in each thematic discussion who shared their experiences and answered questions from other participants. Many questions were raised in each of the four discussions. Notes from the session will be available on I develop But here are some of the points raised:
Topic one: operational challenges for CLD providers
Participants recognized the good work that was done to support the changing needs of learners and communities. However, CLD organizations also face major challenges. Many 3approx Industry organizations are under extreme financial pressure and some employees have been on leave. Local authority CLD employees have been recruited in some areas. Many have reorganized their activities to involve learners and communities from afar while trying to eradicate the clear digital inequalities that exist in our communities. The move to digital is a steep learning curve for many, so effective professional learning is critical for employees. The need to promote the health and well-being of learners and staff is strongly recognized.
Topic two: engagement and learning – what works well?
Examples of what worked well were led by each of the discussion groups. We have heard of the multitude of digital platforms used by CLD providers to involve young people, adult learners and community groups. We have heard many examples of practitioners who are flexible and strive to start where the learner is online, and we were reminded of it Digital agile CLD principles and the great resources out there, like the ones on digital youth work by YouthLink. There has been frustration at the restrictions some organizations have placed on the use of certain platforms, although the increasing importance of digital security has been recognized. We have heard that youth awards such as Hi-5 and Saltire are widely used to recognize youth volunteering during the crisis, and as the level of relaxation eases, the focus is increasingly on helping young people through street work.
Topic 3: Supporting the health and well-being of CLD participants and employees
CLD practitioners can help participants address the effects of staying at home and feelings of sadness, worry, stress, or loneliness. We have some feedback from the Lockdown lowdown study This led to discussions about how we can best support the mental well-being of young people now and as the blockade continues to wear off. In the meantime, feedback from the CLD Standards Council practitioner survey stressed that many workers had to deal with stress themselves. Effective CPD and peer support are becoming increasingly important for practitioners.
Topic 4: Outlook – the role of CLD in the recovery phase.
CLD practitioners play an important role in educational recovery plans and community renewal. There are many ways for CLD to contribute, including outdoor learning, combined learning with schools, parent and family support, youth awards, etc. A wide range of services that present themselves. CLD staff will also have key roles to help rebuild community groups and organizations and help rebuild partnership and collaboration to ensure that resources are used in the best possible way. Much of the focus for recovery planning will be local, and it is important that CLD partners are involved. There will also be an increasing need for CLD to support broader regional and national cooperation to support efforts towards better reconstruction. Participants were interested in keeping some of the new processes that were introduced during the ban.
The feedback on The Big CLD Blether was positive. The participants told us that they enjoyed connecting with CLD colleagues again and discussing experiences and well-functioning work.
Both Education Scotland and the CLD Standards Council are keen to continue discussions with other CLD Blethers. So look at this area!
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