• Research

    Research and reviews

    Research into the deployment and impact of CLD volunteers is limited but there is probably more out there than we realise. We hope to build up this element of the CLD Volunteer Theme as more people like you alert us to research and reviews available, contribute your existing research or start some of your own.

    What HM inspectors are saying about volunteering in CLD

    Although there are still two more reports to be published, we wanted to share what we have found in our review of CLD inspections during Volunteers Week 2019.  We know our CLD volunteers make an amazing difference in their communities.  HMI found evidence to back this up, highlighting the experience, skills and commitment of CLD volunteers in their inspection reports.


    Working with Scotland's Communities - Messages about CLD Volunteers

    The CLD Standards Council Scotland and Education Scotland conducted research in 2018 to understand the community learning and development (CLD) workforce in Scotland. One of the key findings of the report was that “Volunteers are hugely valued part of the CLD workforce”.  This analysis focuses on the information about volunteers in the Working with Scotland’s Communities report.

    Messages about CLD Volunteers (PDF) 

    Working with Volunteers in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Provision in Scotland 2018

    This is the summary of findings from a survey and a national discussion undertaken in 2018. The survey examined the journey of a volunteer in ESOL provision.  The national discussion explored: roles and requirements; recruitment and induction; policies and procedures; retention and progression as well as learner profiles and organisational information.  


    Volunteer Adult Literacy Practitioners within Scottish Local Authorities

    What roles do volunteer adult literacy practitioners play within delivery of Scottish local authorities’ adult literacy programmes and how are these volunteers supported within their roles?

    MEd dissertation 2017 Vikki Carpenter (? How do you want me to describe you here)


    The following abstract provides some information about the aims, conclusions and recommendations to whet your appetite for the whole thing!


    To broaden current knowledge about the use of Volunteer Adult Literacies Practitioners (VALPS) within local authority (LA) literacies delivery in Scotland. The research looked at the roles, the training requirements and the support available to VALPS.


    • Need for further investigation into best practice for supporting, nurturing and developing VALPS, leading to clear policies and procedures although these should not be mandatory but provide a flexible benchmark to build on
    • Volunteers are a growing necessity if adult literacies is to continue to be delivered and available to all who need it within Scottish communities
    • Role of paid staff in the management of volunteers is positive underpinned by a will to learn from and share good practice
    • Variation in the extent to which VALPS are offered accredited training, can be attributed to a number of factors including fears that volunteers would not continue and budget cuts.  This contrasts with the view that we ‘have a duty of care to literacies learners to have suitably qualified tutors working to the social practice approach.
    • Most volunteer are middle class and retired
    • The profile of adult literacies is diminishing and is no longer promoted so zealously nationally despite the UK being viewed as the only economically developed country where the 16-24 year olds have lowest literacy skills of any age group.

    Research recommendations

    • Further study involving all 32 LAs to influence the development of robust policies and procedures and make recommendations on good practice on the roles responsibilities and management of VALPs
    • Review how current SQA PDA SALL is used in the field to ascertain the training requirements for current practice with the possible development of a complementary suite of low cost packages suitable for more specialised, focused requirements
    • Promotion of idevelop ‘Communities of Practice’, reaping benefits of peer support and networking across LAs as well as with partners agencies nationally and internationally
    • Continuous marketing campaigns at local and national level – raising awareness of provision as well as the profile of CLD/ALN taking action to combat stigma around literacy skills. This should include the promotion of CLD/ALN as a valuable credible career path with volunteering opportunities which engage all ages and backgrounds
    • Investigate the changing needs of adult literacies learners to assist the development of clear guidelines and benchmarks
    • CLDSC and ES to work with CLD/ALN teams to foster sharing of practice and progress innovative channels of communication and partnership across LAs.
    Working with Scotland’s communities: a survey of who does community learning and development  August 2015

    Chapter 6 of this survey report focuses on volunteers.


    Chapter overview

    • 66% of the 214 organisations that responded to this section of the survey indicated that volunteers form part of their workforce.
    • There were 40,162 volunteers working in CLD roles in the week beginning 23rd February 2015.There were also 4,175 volunteers in CLD roles who were not working in the same week. 
    • Overall, these volunteers work roughly a total of 195,187 hours in a typical week. 
    • The highest percentage of volunteers working in CLD roles was reported by third sector organisations. 
    • Over four in every five volunteers worked in face-to-face roles with learners or communities. 
    • Overall, just over half of organisations thought there had been an increase involunteer numbers since 2009/10.