HMI's 'grounds for concern' on community learning

LOCAL authorities are dragging their feet in completing plans for community learning, the approach to informal learning which has replaced community education.

In its first review of progress, HMI found that only 19 of 32 authorities had established a firm timetable for completing their plans. This was "inconsistent" with the Government's advice which expected time-scales for community learning to be in place when the first plans were submitted more than two years ago.

Douglas Osler, senior chief inspector of schools, criticised the slow pace of development and said there are "grounds for concern about the extent to which the development will be in place within a reasonable time-scale".

The report urges authorities to set firm deadlines for completing and implementing community learning plans.

Authorities are meant to update community learning plans every three years by forging partnerships involving the providers of learning, voluntary organisations and community representatives.

Plans are supposed to be based on full consultation and involvement with local communities, although the inspectors found that this was not widespread. Many partnerships were said to be better at gathering views than involving local people in decision-making.

The priorities which the Scottish Executive expects community learning to concentrate on include the development of core skills, turning disaffected young people on to positive learning experiences, providing educational support for those with disabilities and promoting lifelong learning and positive lifestyles.

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