A new Digital Community Learning and Development (CLD) initiative is set to begin development following funding from the Scottish Government.

Due to be rolled out nationally in autumn 2022, the Digital CLD Award will seek to recognise the ways that CLD services and organisations promote effective use of digital technologies to enhance learning opportunities in youth work, adult learning, and community development programmes. It is the first initiative of its kind in the sector to be delivered through a collaboration between education bodies and industry partners.

It has been funded by Scottish Government’s Community Learning and Development policy team and will focus on strengthening organisations’ skills across key areas, helping them to build their own, and their learners’, digital skills, digital literacies and strong digital wellbeing for cyber resilience and internet safety practices.

The development of the programme is being led by the Digital Schools Awards, an organisation which was established to encourage a whole-school approach to the use of digital technology in the classroom. It brings expertise from education and industry and is backed by multinational technology companies including HP and AMD, as well as Education Scotland. To date, more than 1.1 million children in 4,200 nursery, primary and secondary schools across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland have taken part in Digital Schools Awards initiatives.

For the first time it is set to engage with organisations throughout the community. It will seek to create a strong legacy of digital skills in the CLD sector by promoting and celebrating improvements in high-quality digital services and learning experiences, and supporting the growth of digitally talented young people and adults. The award will be based around four key principles and designed to be:

• Policy-led and reflective for organisations and individuals.

• Inclusive, with an emphasis on inclusion and co-creation through the voice of learners so that digitally mature organisations can celebrate their achievements, and digitally developing organisations can use the framework as a road map for improvement.

• Encourage and support improvement by acting as a road map for organisations at all stages of their digital development.

• Sustainable through the support of a wide range of sectoral partners.

The programme is being shaped by a Development Group of specialist partners, including CLD Managers Scotland (CLDMS), CLD Standards Council, Community Development Alliance Scotland (CDAS), Education Scotland, Lead Scotland, Learning Link Scotland, Scotland’s Learning Partnership, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Youthlink and Youth Scotland.

Alan Armstrong, who is leading the development for Digital Awards Scotland, said:

Digital technology is already playing a fast-growing and increasingly significant role across all sectors of our education system, and we are pleased to have been given this opportunity to extend our support beyond schools to CLD.

The success of our programme lies in our recognition of the importance of local partnerships in shaping how we develop our digital awards, and helping practitioners engage learners, improve learning and reflect key policy requirements and national advice through our reflective framework approach. We are bringing this expertise to the new Digital CLD Award.

I am delighted to be working directly with our industry and CLD partners, in a collaboration which will enable us to draw together their high levels of digital expertise, innovation and knowledge.

Their support will be invaluable in helping us to co-design a programme which will encourage, highlight and celebrate greater digital inclusion in CLD organisations of all sizes, benefit learners and promote social justice.”

Annmarie Whelan, Education Manager, HP Inc. said:

It is now widely recognised that fostering digital skills amongst young people needs to be a top priority of our education agenda, and as the world continues to rapidly adopt the use of technology across all areas of life this mission only grows in importance.

Over the past few years, the Digital Schools initiative has been incredibly successful in helping educational leaders to understand this message, while providing them with the support and resources needed to implement digital learning strategies. “Expanding the programme beyond the school gates and into community organisations is the next natural step, and will provide local groups with the knowledge and support required to make a real difference.

The programme’s ambitions align very much with our own as we strive to give children, young people and adults the skills they need to thrive in a modern world.”

The DSA award is one of various projects being funded to support development of digital deployment in the sector.


Digital Schools is an independent organisation specialising in digital education programmes. Digital Schools operates the Digital Schools Awards and Awards4SELFIE education programmes to support ministries and schools to enhance digital education practices. In 2015, Digital Schools backed by industry partners led by HP Inc., launched the Digital Schools Awards in Scotland and Ireland to provide teachers and school leaders in schools with opportunities to use digital technology and to enhance their digital competences and have these acknowledged.

Over 3,900 schools are registered for the programme and 965k pupils from nursery through secondary level have been supported. Digital Schools is leading a consortium of ministries, industry and education partners from five countries (Ireland, Lithuania, Scotland, Serbia and Slovenia) in an EU Erasmus project to explore a new European Digital Schools Awards and demonstrate the potential to be sustainable in the participating countries and beyond.

In 2021, Digital Schools will lead a consortium from four countries to design, build and validate a practice sharing hub and mentor system focused on the development and dissemination of best practices in digital deployment. The Academy will facilitate the transfer of digital competence from digitally mature schools to those whose digital journey is less developed.