Published in the newspaper this week

Published in the newspaper this week

I’m glad that your correspondent Pauline Hunter (Japan can teach us a lesson, i, 22 June) is in favour of school children cleaning their classrooms. Our students do that and more. Every day they vacuum all areas, dust, mop the floors in the toilets, wash up in the kitchen and so on. They do this because we have a joint resources committee of students and adults that decides on finances for the building. The students understood that cleaning would cost money so they agreed to do it provided that money saved was then available for extra learning resources and for […]

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Learning without classrooms

Learning without classrooms

200 people gathered at the Freedom to Learn conference at Summerhill School on 6th, 7th and 8th of May. I ran a workshop on different ways of learning particularly focused on learning without using classrooms. I generally find when talking with many people about learning that they have a bit of a blank in thinking of alternative ways of learning which don’t require the classroom. Somehow an approach which doesn’t need any classrooms can seem aberrant. The reality is that the classroom is a rather odd alternative that has been relatively recently created in human history. For most of the […]

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Rhetoric workshop speech by student Taanu Donne, aged 15

Rhetoric workshop speech by student Taanu Donne, aged 15

How do you feel about organ donation? Kidneys. Lungs. A heart. Vital organs that we would be dead without. Many are needed, but few are donated. At this moment in the UK, 6.5 thousand people are waiting for an organ. 6.5 thousand people who are inevitably going to die without a transplant. 6.5 thousand people whose lives could b saved – by your actions. How does it feel to know that, when you pass on, have ceased to be, have kicked the bucket, you could save 8 other lives? To know that a family member or a  close friend is […]

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Launch of Afternoon Programme at SML College

Launch of Afternoon Programme at SML College

After 16 years of great success with our Self Managed Leaning morning programme, we are now launching an afternoon programme which with our first round of admissions in September 2018. Research has shown conclusively that young people tend to have a body clock that is more conducive to afternoon activity. Academics have studied schools that start late in the morning and finish later; they claim that this not only produces better relationships in school but has also improved exam results. Our afternoon programme will run from 1.30 to 4.30pm and this may suit many young people, but this is just one […]

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My internship at SML College

by Hannah Laura Bernard, our colleague from Germany who spent time with us earlier this term   In the context of my bachelor in pedagogy and educational science, I made a five-week-long internship at SML College this autumn. I wanted to know what school might look like when there is no curriculum, no classroom structure and no one who tells students what to do. Even though five weeks is a very short time, I gained various insights into operations at the College. I took part in the community meetings, got involved in the work with the learning groups, participated in the […]

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Personalised Education Now

Big thanks to Josh Gifford and his team for the second edition of P.E.N Journal. The first edition brought together some of the contributions of last years, very successful Alternative Educational Futures conference. We were delighted to be asked to contribute once again. You can download a pdf version of the journal and read our piece looking at the student experience of SML using the link below. Pen Journal 25

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Heart surgery & other operations

Heart surgery & other operations

Our resident maths & physics tutor Lars also ran two very popular dissection workshops with students this term. The first of these involved dissection of a lamb pluck – lungs, liver, and heart, all connected by the oesophagus – providing an excellent opportunity to satisfy some of the student’s natural curiosity about biology. This process introduces students to a vocabulary of appropriate terminology related to anatomy and physiology of a mammal. Drawing comparisons to human physiology, students investigate and recognise the anatomical structures and explain the physiological functions of these body systems. Learning could then extend to recognising and explaining the interrelationships […]

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Self Managed Learning made difficult

Self Managed Learning made difficult

I appreciate that the title may seem a little strange. So many self-help texts are about things “made easy”. What I want to cover here is the fact that it is quite difficult to get people to understand why we are doing Self Managed Learning. The prevailing paradigm is one where assumptions are that young people go to school to learn. The dominant model is one that I want to challenge here and I want to do that through presenting real evidence. I’m a scientist by background and therefore I tend to be interested in evidence rather than prejudiced opinion. […]

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Career direction

It’s best to know where you’re going – and why Some years ago I was working in a school running a Self Managed Learning project. In the group with which I was working there was a talented 13-year-old girl musician. She said that she would like to have a career as an orchestra musician. We looked at the life of an orchestra musician and also looked at some research on job satisfaction. The results of the research showed that orchestra musicians had a level of job satisfaction on a par with that of a prison warder. The reasons for orchestra […]

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Taking the long view

Once upon a time there was a boy in Bolton with no interest in his schoolwork. He tended to spend time with his mates or watched comedy VHS tapes that he had recorded. He gained one GCSE then after school did a series of seemingly dead-end jobs such as in the bingo hall and at the local cinema. Because he enjoyed cracking jokes and fooling around he started to do some stand-up comedy gigs in local pubs. Eventually he developed a comedy stand-up act. He was officially entered in the Guinness World Records book for the planet’s biggest-selling stand-up tour. […]

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