Dr Marion Allison to keynote at #seraconf22

Keynote title: A Community Learning and Development approach to reconnecting Research, Policy and Practice.

Keynote speaker: Marion Allison

Institution: Community Learning & Development Standards Council 

Marion Allison


The aim of this presentation is to discuss how research, policy and practice can be enabled by Community Learning and Development (CLD) approaches to better meet the needs of learners across the education system.  Whilst its origins stemmed from the need to counter the effects of persistent disadvantage caused by the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries and the economic disruption of the mid to late 20th century, Community Learning and Development practice is underpinned by Freire’s critical pedagogy (Pedagogy of the Oppressed 1972).  Essentially, CLD is the educational activities delivered within community settings that enables people to identify individual and collective goals, to engage in learning and to take action to bring about change for themselves and their communities. It is recognisable in the forms of adult learning, community development and youth work.

The CLD values of equity, inclusion, empowerment, lifelong learning, self-determination and collaboration encourage practitioners to adopt action-research approaches and the social capital practices of bonding, bridging and linking (Woolcock 2001, Allison 2018) to ensure that learners and communities needs are met.  This in turn can effect better democratic engagement, educational outcomes, economic prosperity, community health and wellbeing and act as a social multiplier (Putnam 1993, 2000, Allison 2018). Through this presentation I will draw from my experience as a CLD practitioner, academic and policy maker to suggest that by placing learners at the heart of policy, research and practice new contexts for skills, learning and knowledge will be created that disrupt and hopefully meet the challenges faced by fourth industrial revolution of the 21st century.


Marion Allison is the Director of the Community Learning and Development (CLD) Standards Council Scotland, the professional body for people working and volunteering in adult learning, community development and youth work. She leads the organisation across all business areas, working with a wide range of professionals from the public, voluntary and private sectors with partnership programmes across the UK and beyond.

Marion has over 30 years’ experience of working within Community Learning and Development and Education.  She is a member of the Institute of Directors, the Chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee and Board Member at Glasgow Kelvin College as well as being a Trustee at Impact Arts. Marion worked all over Glasgow in various youth work roles before moving to South Lanarkshire Council where she managed two large youth centres. Marion lectured on the BA/BA(HONS) Community Education Course at the University of the West of Scotland and completed her doctoral study into Young People, Enterprise and Social Capital at the University of Stirling.

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