Talking about tomorrow


Community learning

Lead Scotland have created a guide to community based adult learning (CBAL) for disabled people. The guide is full of useful advice and information related to various related topics, such as knowing your rights under the Equality Act and using CBAL to build knowledge on how to get involved in campaigning. 

There are many different learning platforms if you want to learn flexibly at home. These allow you to learn in your own time at a pace that suits you. Some courses lead to formal qualifications but most are informal. Browse a range of different topics on the Open University’s Open Learn platform.

Lead Scotland also have an online learning platform called My Lead. It is open to everyone but has been specifically developed to support disabled people with a range of needs. It covers a variety of topics with a strong focus on staying safe online and developing digital skills.

Flexible options

Community based learning is a good option if other learning environments don’t meet someone’s needs.

College or university may not be right for many reasons. Here are a few:

  • There may not be a course that interests them
  • They may have the right academic qualifications but need longer to develop the social skills and personal independence to manage college life
  • Their qualifications may not be at a level that matches their ability

Community learning can help with all of these.

Most opportunities are provided by local councils or voluntary organisations and charities, in venues like libraries or community centres.

People may work on their own, with a tutor or with people from the local community. Courses can be very flexible and may include evening or weekend classes, or even tutorials in someone’s own home.

Choosing a course

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework places qualifications into levels from 1 to 12, to give an idea of the demands involved. It helps learners see what previous qualifications are worth, and what they may be able to do next.

Informal learning doesn’t usually lead to a qualification. It might include:

  • Support to improve self-confidence;
  • Developing interpersonal skills, communication skills, or citizenship;
  • Support to access other learning opportunities or employment, e.g. volunteering;
  • Learning new skills or brushing up existing ones, e.g. reading, writing, or using a computer.

Formal learning usually leads to a qualification. It might include:

  • Core skills, which employers identify as essential for learning and work (including communication, numeracy, information and communications technology, working with others and problem solving);
  • Further education courses, including those that count towards further qualifications or work;
  • Short courses on particular interests;
  • Access courses for learners with additional support needs, including independent living and other core skills;
  • Customised awards designed by learning providers to meet specific needs.

Your local council should be able to tell you the learning opportunities available in your area. You can also look at the Learning Options pages on the website My World of Work or call Lead Scotland on 0800 999 2568.

Starting university – a student’s view


Emma describes the support she received




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Real life stories

Starting university – a parent’s view

Suzanne’s daughter Emma has severe hearing loss. Without hearing aids she can’t process sound and hears no speech. She is in her final year studying ...