Published: Wednesday, 15th November 2017
The results of an inspection by Education Scotland of Community Learning and Development (CLD) partners in the Scottish Borders have been published.
Inspectors visited the Borders during August and September 2017 when they met with senior managers, provider organisations, staff and volunteers. They also spoke to the children, young people, adults and community organisations who benefit from these services.
'Very Good' and 'Good' ratings
Across four key indicators, Inspectors gave the provision:
- one ‘Very Good’ rating for leadership and direction
- three ‘Good’ ratings for improvements in the community, impact on the local community and delivering the learning offer with learners.
Strong strategic leadership
Inspectors found strong strategic leadership which was setting a clear direction for CLD partnership working and resulting in life changing impacts for participants across a range of programmes. This was being matched by effective support to volunteering and a strong focus on equality and diversity. They also found that:
- the visions, values, aims and governance structures were clearly communicated and understood by staff and partners
- the nine local CLD Learning Community Partnerships were proving effective
- reporting into the strategic Community Planning Partnership was well developed
- the CLD Strategic Plan 2015-18 was well written and clearly focussed on outcomes
- community groups were confident, skilled and active, and working well to promote social diversity and address barriers to participation. Examples included the Stow Lunch Club (pictured above), which provides a valuable service to help tackle social isolation in the Gala Water area, the Galashiels and Selkirk Local Citizens Panel for people with a learning disability and the TD1 Youth Hub.
- the work of teachers, employers and CLD partners through the Connect Zone at Galashiels Academy was proving effective.
Mention was also made of the Langlee Residents Association, the Tweedbank Early Learners Committee and the Energise Galashiels Trust which has over 50 volunteers working to improve the town centre.
The learning provided for looked after young people was recognised as meeting their needs and providing valuable life skills. Strong partnership working between the Council’s Homelessness Team and local housing associations was found to be improving outcomes for care leavers.
There was also praise for the way in which support from Borders Volunteer Centre, the Joint Health Improvement Service and the Council was enabling the Langlee Shedders to develop skills and secure resources.
Support for volunteers and learners
Effective support for volunteering was further highlighted through the Active Schools initiative which was providing young people with good training and development opportunities. This was also the case for participants of the Voice of My Own (VOMO) project who were securing employment as a result of the input they received. Borders Youth Voice was also recognised as significantly increasing the capacity of young people to raise issues of local and national importance.
In general, learners across the Borders were found to be well supported with programmes being relevant and based on need. Just some of the positive examples mentioned were the Wild About Wellbeing project offered to young women attending Galashiels Academy and the Cool Down Crew programme. Developed in partnership by the Scottish Fire Service, CLD and TD1 it provides a range of learning experiences that give young people valuable skills and accreditation.
Strong focus on equality and diversity
Inspectors also found a strong focus on equality and diversity with the Council being the first local authority in Scotland where all secondary schools were working towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Charter status. LGBT young people were able to benefit from a weekly drop-in session and were actively engaged in the design and delivery of the programme.
Councillor Carol Hamilton, Executive Member for Children and Young People
“This is an extremely positive report and everyone who is involved with CLD in the Borders should be very proud of the recognition and acknowledgement that this outcome represents.
“As well as highlighting the strong leadership and direction of the provision, Inspectors had praise for the high quality self-evaluation provided and for the way in which key partners contributed to the process. They were also impressed with the good understanding that the partnership had of their strengths and areas for improvement, and for the way in which communities were seen to be achieving well.
“It was encouraging to see such a wide range of quality initiatives mentioned in the report. Each one represents an individual story of achievement or connection to their local community which collectively paints a strong picture of the opportunity and engagement being provided by CLD partners every day across the Borders for young people and adults alike.”
Inspectors discussed with CLD partners how they might continue to improve their work and it was agreed that they would strengthen target setting, report on progress and analyse trends over time across the partnership. They would also look to develop the capacity building model for groups and communities.
The report is available from Education Scotland