COMMUNITY learning in the Borders is making the grade, according to government inspectors.

A recent inspection by Education Scotland found leadership and direction of the Community Learning and Development partnership to be 'very good'.

Ratings for improvements in the community, impact on the local community and delivering the learning offer with learners were all marked up as 'good'.

Inspectors visited the region during August and September when they met with senior managers, provider organisations, staff and volunteers.

They also spoke to the children, young people, adults and community organisations who benefit from these services.

Councillor Carol Hamilton, who is responsible for Children and Young People, said: “This is an extremely positive report and everyone who is involved with Community Learning and Development in the Borders should be very proud of the recognition and acknowledgement that this outcome represents.

“As well as highlighting the strong leadership and direction of the provision, Inspectors had praise for the high quality self-evaluation provided and for the way in which key partners contributed to the process.

"They were also impressed with the good understanding that the partnership had of their strengths and areas for improvement, and for the way in which communities were seen to be achieving well."

Inspectors found community groups to be confident, skilled and active with evidence that they were working well to promote social diversity and address barriers to participation.

Among the examples highlighted were the Stow Lunch Club, which provides a valuable service to help tackle social isolation in the Gala Water area, the Galashiels and Selkirk Local Citizens Panel for people with a learning disability and the TD1 Youth Hub.

The impact made by the work of teachers, employers and CLD partners through the Connect Zone at Galashiels Academy was also recognised.

And mention was also made of the Langlee Residents Association, the Tweedbank Early Learners Committee and the Energise Galashiels Trust which has over 50 volunteers working to improve the town centre.

The learning provided for looked after young people was recognised as meeting their needs and providing valuable life skills.

Strong partnership working between the council’s Homelessness Team and local housing associations was found to be improving outcomes for care leavers.

There was also praise for the way in which support from Borders Volunteer Centre, the Joint Health Improvement Service and the council was enabling the Langlee Shedders to develop skills and secure resources.

Councillor Hamilton added: “It was encouraging to see such a wide range of quality initiatives mentioned in the report.

"Each one represents an individual story of achievement or connection to their local community which collectively paints a strong picture of the opportunity and engagement being provided by CLD partners every day across the Borders for young people and adults alike.”

Effective support for volunteering was further highlighted through the Active Schools initiative which was providing young people with good training and development opportunities.

This was also the case for participants of the Voice of My Own project who were securing employment as a result of the input they received.

Borders Youth Voice was also recognised as significantly increasing the capacity of young people to raise issues of local and national importance.

Inspectors also found a strong focus on equality and diversity with the Council being the first local authority in Scotland where all secondary schools were working towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Charter status.