Last Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Working with Scotland's Communities (2015)

What is this?

​A national research study which explored the diverse range of paid staff and volunteers in community learning and development (CLD) roles across Scotland.

Who is this for?

​Organisations and individuals involved in, or interested in, community learning and development in Scotland.

About this research

Who did this research?

Working with Scotland’s Communities was a partnership between Education Scotland, Youthlink Scotland; The Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC); The Workers Educational Association (WEA); (Learning Link Scotland); The CLD Standards Council for Scotland; and CLD Managers Scotland.

What is the context for this research?

Paid staff and volunteers in CLD roles work in a wide range of different organisations across the public and third sectors. In recent years, increasing importance has been placed on the contribution of CLD to a range of national and local policy areas in Scotland, within a context of constraints on public spending. It was felt that it was necessary to have access to higher quality national information about the workforce that supports CLD activity.

How was the research carried out?

Research partners agreed and publicised a definition of staff and volunteers in CLD roles. Organisations were encouraged to respond through partner networks across the public and third sectors.

The research involved an online survey, with a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions, aimed at organisations and services that employ CLD staff and volunteers. In total, 308 community, voluntary and public sector organisations and services across Scotland responded to the survey, and 246 of them provided detailed information about their workforce.

What are the strengths of the research methodology?

  • Online surveys can be a convenient way to gather views from a large number of people in a structured and consistent form. 
  • The survey was developed in partnership with some of the key national bodies in the CLD sector. 
  • The survey engaged a larger number and range of organisations than previous attempts at similar research in the past.

What are the limitations of the research methodology?

  • CLD is a way of working with communities so there is unlikely to ever be a definitive list of every CLD organisation in Scotland.
  • The survey was completed on behalf of organisations so it did not gather data from individual practitioners.

Reflective questions

  • How do the Working with Scotland's Communities survey findings improve your understanding of who does community learning and development? How can this help to inform your practice?
  • In your setting, how well do you use research and evidence to improve outcomes for learners? How could this be improved?
  • How could you collaborate with partners to improve outcomes for learners?

Related research/reading

Defining the CLD workforce

For more information about how the CLD workforce was defined, please see section 7 of this guidance document, which was provided to support people taking part in the survey.

PDF file: Working with Scotland's Communities - survey guide (245 KB)

Full reference

Education Scotland (2015). Working with Scotland’s Communities. A survey of who does community learning and development. Livingston: Education Scotland.

Full research article

PDF file: Working with Scotland’s Communities - survey report (1.4 MB)

Zip file: Survey results infographics (771 KB)

PDF file: Regional Reports 2016 - South East and Central Area (270 KB)

PDF file: Regional Reports 2016 - Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway Area (278 KB)

PDF file: Regional Reports 2016 - North Alliance Area (270 KB)

PDF file: Regional Reports 2016 - Tayside and Fife Area (274 KB)

PDF file: Regional Reports 2016 - West CLD Alliance Area (265 KB)