Haven’t you heard? Don’t you know? Last June, it was proposed that an Education Workforce Council (EWC) be established, encompassing the roles and functions of both the Community Learning and Development Standards Council (CLDSC) and the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). This was not to be an expansion of GTCS powers, but the co-creation of an entirely new professional regulation and registration organisation for those employed or deployed within education. Audible gasps echoed around the workplaces of those affected.
Scores of CLDSC discussion events were attended by hundreds of practitioners, whose reach covers positions of influence in schools, communities, third-sector organisations, local authorities, government, FE and HE. Their opinions, free from the influence or direction of employers, pressure groups or trade unions, inspired cautious optimism. It seemed that the rationale was obvious: education does not happen only in schools. In classrooms, young people do not learn in isolation from the learning that happens within families and communities. Perhaps an EWC would reflect the common responsibilities of teachers and CLD practitioners? Further, an EWC could foster shared professional learning and understanding between professionals.
Four areas of note
For all parties with a vested interest in the EWC, there were four common areas of note: independence, professional identity, finance and governance. However, messages in social media threads and newspaper articles quickly inspired a “them” and “us” discourse. Many comments seemed either mendacious or ignorant, and it appears necessary to spell out the reality: CLD is not an allied educational practice that undermines or tarnishes the status quo; for many learners, CLD is the status quo.
In Scotland, CLD is a distinct profession that is bound up in statute and policy, delivered by a graduate-trained workforce, founded on professional competencies and a clear code of ethics.
Values of inclusion, equity, empowerment, collaboration and mutual respect inform the CLD approach. These are evident in our response to the EWC proposals which, in the absence of an enhanced CLDSC, advocates a federated governance structure that preserves all distinct professional identities, ensures equitable professional representation, secures an independent body free from the direction or influence of any other organisation, and ensures that no one group benefits financially from the toils or investments of another.
Demands on the public sector are not in decline; amid diminishing public finance and increasing poverty, the education and CLD sectors must be empowered, competent, inclusive and professional if they are to improve communities and young lives.
Neither teaching nor CLD has the capacity to improve educational outcomes in isolation. The EWC consultation is closed and we eagerly anticipate the outcomes. Maybe Scotland isn’t quite ready for an EWC or maybe it will just need to be. One thing is for sure: change is afoot.
Dr Marion Allison is head of the CLD (Community Learning and Development) Standards Council Scotland