A unique learning community

for 9-16 year olds

in the heart of Brighton

What we know

We know a lot today about how children and young people learn - for instance they are all different. Yet school still assumes that children and young people will learn the same things, in the same way, at the same time. Research has shown that this is not the case and many young people today feel unprepared for life in a fast changing world by the time they leave school. Even graduates with good degrees are not guaranteed jobs whilst employers in the growing creative and digital sectors cannot find employees with the skills they need. If you think your children deserve an education that will prepare them for success in the 21st century, then read on.


Introducing Self Managed Learning (SML)


Self Managed Learning (SML) is a research-based approach developed in the late-1970’s. Since 1980 we have applied and rigorously evaluated the method in a wide variety of contexts. We have run SML programmes with many organisations – the Bank of England, the BBC, Sainsbury’s, British Airways and the NHS, to name a few.

Person-centred learning

The Self Managing learner determines what, where, when, how and why they will learn. Learning is structured and supported but there is no predefined syllabus or curriculum. Our research has shown that this is the most effective way for people to learn. Taking responsibility for one’s own learning and learning to learn are vital skills in a fast-changing world.

Structure and flexibility

The SML approach values learning with others and collaboration. There are three elements at it’s core: the Learning Community, the Learning Group and the Learning Agreement. This structure supports the demands of individuals and organisations for the 21st century. You can read more on this in our free ebook.

Self Managed Learning College

We have been providing SML programmes for young people at Self Managed Learning College in Brighton for 15 years. The College is a vibrant learning community that offers a real alternative to schooling. We provide a stimulating and nurturing environment where students can develop the confidence and skills they need for the future. Whatever they want to learn a way is found for them to do so. Our students feel well prepared to take the next steps in their careers when they leave the College. Results for students of all abilities have been exceptional, with all of our 16 year olds going on to further education or employment.

Our aim

We support our students in deciding for themselves who they want to be in life and how to achieve it. We assist them in deciding what they need to do to pursue their goals and future careers. The structure we provide facilitates this process.

Our approach

We treat each young person as an individual and personalise learning for every student. We provide a supportive structure that allows students to plan, organise and carry out their learning activities.

Our community

We work as a learning community where the role of staff is to support the students in learning what they need to lead purposeful adult lives.  Key features of the College are mutual respect, collaboration, helping and supporting each other.

Admissions & fees

The main criteria for any young person joining us are - does the person want to be with us – are they keen to be part of our learning community - and are they likely to benefit from being with us?
If these criteria are satisfied after an initial meeting, we invite prospective students to join us for a free trial week at the College. This allows them to experience our approach first hand and helps everyone to know if it's the right choice for the student. If a place is offered and accepted the student may join us at the start of the next new term. Our next start date for new students will be 24th April 2017, after the Easter break. The closing date for Summer term applications is 7th April 2017.

Fees - £1300 per term or £330 per month over a 12 month period.

SML College is part of the educational charity, the Centre for Self Managed Learning. It is inspected and approved by East Sussex County Council as an educational provider. Our unique position allows us to operate outside the constraints of school regulations such as curriculum requirements.

What people have to say about us

A small selection of some of the many positive comments we've received.

  • Peter Humphriesformer headteacher

    `I cannot think of a more secure, supportive and caring atmosphere in which to learn. On every visit to the SMLC, on any occasions I have spoken with youngsters and parents at conferences and so on I have been so impressed with the working atmosphere, and the total dedication and care of the staff team.`

  • Charlotte Jalleyparent

    `Lilly has attended SMLC from age 11 to 16 and has been very happy. She has been allowed to and shown how to manage herself and her learning. She can pursue subjects that interest her and to the level that she wants with the support of the College and it's tutors. We are very grateful to have such an innovative, forward thinking College on our doorstep.`

  • Emily Charkinhistorian and philosopher at the Institute of Education, London

    `The college has a national and international reputation as one of the rare examples of a place which is providing families with a real and positive alternative to main-stream schooling. I visited a few years ago and was extremely heartened that such a place exists - where young people have the opportunity to self-educate in a supportive mixed-age environment.`

Find Out More

We have prepared a free booklet that explains SML and the College in more detail. Just enter your email address below and we will send you a link to download your copy. We will also send you occasional news from the College that we think will be of value. We won’t share your details with anyone and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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