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April 4, 2018

How good are we?

Over the past fifteen years, Scotland’s fast growing development trust movement has become an established feature of the policy landscape. But these are complex organisations that develop in very different ways according to the needs of their communities. Such variability across the movement begs the question as to whether it’s in any way possible to measure performance or capture their impact in a way that is consistent. Education Scotland have had a close look at six development trusts and have concluded that a framework based on a system of peer review could be the answer.

DTAS and Education Scotland

To read a summary report by Education Scotland and Development Trusts Association Scotland

Development Trusts are community led organisations which utilise a combination of enterprise, creativity and voluntary effort to address local need and pro-actively drive forward local regeneration processes.

In doing so they will often employ staff, own assets, operate businesses, run services and other activities. The development trust approach is holistic in nature, operating across economic, social, cultural and environmental spheres of community life, and is characterised by a commitment to enterprise and to establishing meaningful partnerships. A 2016

Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) survey of 220 development trusts found that collectively they employ over 750 people, have a combined turnover of £50.3 million (of which 42% is generated through trading activity) and own assets valued at £90 million.

The growth of development trusts in Scotland, both numerically and in scale and range of operation over recent years, has been a largely organic phenomena. However, as this development trus  network has expanded and matured, a recurring concern is how they can best capture and demonstrate the ‘impact’ of their activity.

This issue emerged as the priority concern at a members consultation within the 2015 DTAS Annual Conference, the national body for development trusts. This was the catalyst for discussions and a subsequent collaboration between DTAS & Education Scotland.

During 2016, Education Scotland, undertook reviews of six development trusts. DTAS identified a representative sample of members operating across different types of communities, and those organisations were offered the opportunity to be the subject of an Education Scotland Review. All six organisations approached enthusiastically volunteered to be part of a review process.

These were Auchinleck Community Development Initiative (Ayrshire), Cranhill Development Trust (Glasgow), Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust (Lanarkshire), Huntly and District Development Trust (Aberdeenshire), Inverclyde Community Development Trust (Inverclyde), and Mull & Iona Community Trust (Argyll and Bute).

Each of the six development trusts operate in areas affected by either rural isolation or multiple deprivation. These communities face particular economic and social challenges, such as the loss or a lack of services, high levels of unemployment and health inequalities. Each of the participating organisations is different in terms of their size, date of establishment and the range of the work they do. However, development trusts all share some important key features such as being responsive to local needs and seeking to improve the lives and livelihoods of local people.

To read summary report – click here