Learning Networks Update

Cathy Macnaughton of the Scottish Practice Learning Project introduces Scotland’s four social service Learning Networks.

Four Learning Networks have been established in Scotland to assist in the development of a confident and competent social service workforce.

The Learning Networks will provide information and advice to help social service employers manage workforce development and planning, continuing professional development, registration with the Scottish Social Services Council, and practice learning. The four networks are North of Scotland, Tayforth, South East Scotland and West of Scotland.

Representation on each of the networks will include all those involved in the learning and development of the social service workforce, including service users, carers, voluntary and private sector employers, local authorities, further education colleges and universities.

The Scottish Practice Learning Project (SPLP) manages the overall Learning Networks project and supports each network individually too. The funding for the networks comes from a mix of partner contributions and a three year £1million grant from the Scottish Executive.

The networks are still at an early stage of development but long term will provide the above support to employers by, for instance, providing information about available learning opportunities, encouraging joint delivery of learning and sharing good practice. They will also have a role to play in promoting careers in social services and in identifying gaps in skills and in learning provision.

A priority for all of the networks will be involving people who use services and their carers. The networks will also have to remain flexible in order to work in a rapidly changing environment which includes the growth of policies that impact on how services are delivered.

The regional approach taken by the individual networks reflects the importance of local delivery taking account of local need. Whilst each network has discrete geographic boundaries, work is done across those boundaries to promote sharing and innovation. This is supported by a national Learning Networks development group that meets every two months.

Each Learning Network has contributed to this article to highlight the geographical areas covered and direct interested individuals to the right person. The potential of Learning Networks is enormous, but the key word is ‘network’ and the considerable work achieved so far can be enhanced even further by agencies coming forward and influencing the growth and development.

North of Scotland Learning Network

  • – Geographical area: the Highlands, North East and the Islands.
  • – Contact details: Sheila Lockhart, SPLP Project Officer, can assist with enquiries about the North of Scotland Learning Network. Contact Sheila on Tel: 01382 207339 or email: [email protected]
  • – Network spotlight: A strategy for the involvement of service users and carers both on the Executive Group and in the wider network is being developed and this work will be a priority for the Development Manager once that appointment has been made.

Tayforth Learning Network

  • – Geographical area: the network is based on the geographical boundaries of Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Perth and Kinross, Dundee and Fife councils.
  • – Contact details: Pam Linton from Angus Council chairs the Network Steering Group, and can assist with enquiries about the Tayforth Learning Network. Contact Pam on Tel: 01241 43521 or email: [email protected]
  • – Network spotlight: A series of stakeholder consultation events were held in late 2005 that attracted over 150 representatives from a cross-section of organisations. During the consultation phase stakeholders were asked to consider what they wanted from the network. The information provided has directly informed the content of the Network’s business plan.

South East Scotland Learning Network for the Social Service Workforce

  • – Geographical area: Lothians and Scottish Borders
  • – Contact details: Cathy Macnaughton, from the Scottish Practice Learning Project team can assist with enquiries about the South East Scotland Learning Network. Contact Cathy on Tel: 01382 207334 or email: [email protected]
  • – Network spotlight: Wendy Paterson has been deployed from the University of Edinburgh as part-time Network Coordinator and the network is in the process of recruiting an Information and Development Officer and an Administrator. The University of Edinburgh is the host organisation for the Network and will be the host for these posts.

The West of Scotland Learning Network

  • – Geographical area: Dumfries and Galloway in the South, Argyll to the West, the Dunbartons to the North and the Lanarkshires to the East. The network offices will initially be in Glasgow, most of the network activity is expected to take place locally.
  • – Contact details: Celia Rothero, is Manager of the Network and can be contacted on Tel: 0141 554 9897 or email: [email protected]
  • – Network spotlight: Following a number of consultation events, a demand for an interactive information system to help members to access and be linked to resources to enable learning across a wide spectrum, has been identified. It is intended, in due course, that an IT librarian will be appointed to maintain this.