Self-evaluation across learning communities

Self evaluations across learning communities are beginning to emerge as a useful tool in terms of scoping learning needs, and planning to address them.


Case study from Argyll and Bute

The CLD Service in Argyll and Bute decided around two years ago to hold learning community reviews in all 10 learning communities in the area. Below is a generalised description of how these are organised.

After discussions between CLD staff and the secondary head teacher, invitations to a ‘Local Learning Review’ event were emailed to all the agencies and organisations who are considered to have a remit for learning provision (of any kind) in the area. Typically this might include:

  • Head Teacher, local Secondary School; Primary Head Teachers
  • Local College staff
  • Local training organisations/providers
  • Archaeology Scotland representative
  • Argyll and Bute Council CLD staff/tutors
  • Community Trust representatives
  • After School Club staff, local nurseries
  • Relevant community group representatives
  • SDS staff
  • Library staff
  • Young Carers Coordinator
  • Third Sector Intermediary Agency representative
  • Employability Team staff
  • Health partners

The invitations were sent jointly by the Head Teacher and a CLD Manager. This was felt to be a powerful incentive to partners to attend, and indeed in most cases, attendance rates have been good.

After initial introductions and teas/coffees, a presentation was given that introduces the concept of CLD, teases out the terms ‘learning’ and ‘learning community’, and then introduces the questions that were to be focussed on:

1. What are the significant features of this learning community?

  • What are the main features, both good and not-so-good, of this area?
  • Why do people stay? Why do they leave?
  • Do we have a good, vibrant mix of types and ages of people?
  • Can people get the services they need? If not, why not?
  • What about employment? Health? Housing? Household Income? Crime?

2. What are the main challenges for delivery of learning?

  • What are the main challenges of delivering learning provision of any kind in the Tarbert area?
  • Can people (any age) access learning they need or want? Find out about what’s available?
  • Can they get the support they need?
  • Are there gaps?
  • Are there any plans to fill these, or to address the challenges?

3. Key Projects?

  • What are our most popular or successful projects?

4. Impact on individual learners (young people and adults)?

This question relates to the impact of learning on participants (young people and adults), and focuses particularly on what we know that participants say, or report, about their learning experiences. It asks about:

  • The extent to which participants report good outcomes from their learning experiences.
  • What do we know about under-participating and under-performing groups?

5. Impact on Community Groups?

This question relates to the impact of learning on community groups and their members – again, focusing particularly on what we know that participants say, or report, about their learning experiences. It asks:

  • Are members of community groups developing their skills, abilities and confidence?
  • How is learning provision empowering members of community groups to shape developments in their communities?

6. Evidence of impact? Can we prove it?

This question is about hard data. It asks:

  • What records (significant to learning and achievement) have been collected on a regular basis over a period of time?
  • Do we set targets, and are we meeting them?

7. Leadership?

  • Do learning providers have a shared sense of direction about learning provision for this community?

8. Actions for Improvement?

  • Is there anything that we could do to improve learning provision for this community?

Some of these questions were found to be difficult, and asking them in Plain English was challenging – but despite this, participants were invariably passionate about answering the first question, and this energy seemed to carry them through the rest! The results were written up and fed back to all participants.

Education staff have been very supportive in every case, and they have found it useful to hear from partners about their views of learning provision in their catchment areas. CLD staff have also found the process invaluable in many ways; in particular, we have obtained a joint self-evaluation that we can trust to inform our work in the area.