Empowerment – from a presentation at the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India

At the end of November I attended the International Democratic Education Conference in Bangalore India. As part of the presentation that I made I explored the notion of empowerment. I used the model shown below which summarises the way in which we think about empowerment in Self Managed Learning College. It uses the idea of traffic lights to highlight the difference between non-negotiable, negotiable and empowered activity. Like any organisation we have some non-negotiable elements. These include that we start the day with our community meeting. However what people say in the community meetings is up to the individual. They […]

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A positive and uplifting community

Earlier this year, I conducted my 8 week block placement at SMLC, whose purpose was two-fold, firstly, I aspired to support the organisation’s work in the role of a volunteer and secondly, I was required to undertake a research project. My researcher role required me to observe and interact with learning advisors (LA) and learning group advisors to create an in-depth understanding of what they do and my role as a volunteer resulted in me helping students and LA’s on a daily basis with activities and workshops. Looking back and writing this, I disgustingly remember counting down days where my placement would be over. […]

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Thoughts from India

I am in Bangalore to attend and run a session at, this year’s International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). I used the opportunity to arrive early to talk with some teachers and especially to gain insights into the current situation here from Amukta Mahaptra, who runs SchoolScape based in Bangalore. (Amukta is also the convenor of this Conference and is well known in India for her work.) Overall the picture here is very similar to what is happening all over the world. State-run schools are very traditional, classroom-based and totally teacher led. There is minimal room for young people to have […]

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A volunteer’s experience – blog 01

I am Eleanor Mayne, the daughter of English tutor; Claire Parkman. I have been volunteering at SML College since October 2017, when Steph Cracknell was coordinator. Initially I began volunteering as, being unemployed for just over two years, I needed to prepare myself for work again and keep my mind busy. The plan was to put my artistic talents to use with the students, however, it quickly became apparent that Steph required my administration skills. I waded into the filing systems and aided Steph in every way I could, eventually taking over from her for a short while once she […]

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Learning, not education

Learning, not education

This title may seem a bit bizarre. After all, most people in authority believe education is a good thing and there are organisations attempting to create compulsory education worldwide. The basis for this is the idea that there is an entitlement to education for young people. So I have to explain what I mean by ‘learning, not education’. My fundamental stance is that humans are crucially learning creatures. Human babies are born with the least range of inbuilt abilities of any creature. Babies have to learn hugely the first few years of their life and even then they are not […]

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Excellent outcome from Ofsted visit

One morning last October we had an impromptu visit from two Ofsted inspectors at  SML College, Brighton. The lead inspector spent some time quizzing most of the students on an individual basis. He asked about what they did and how the college ran including the times which they attended. The Chair of Governors in the College, Dr Ian Cunningham, explained to the inspectors that the College did not have an imposed curriculum, it had no classrooms or formal lessons, no timetable, nor any other of the arrangements found in school. After the lead inspector had spoken to students he commented […]

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The Twelve Days of Christmas at SMLC

On the first day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC Unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the second day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC Aira’s kitchen checklist and unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the third day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC A Unity game from Lily, Aira’s kitchen checklist and unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the fourth day of Christmas, the students gave to SMLC Cool tunes from Harry, A Unity game from Lily, Aira’s kitchen checklist and unlimited super-fast broadband for free On the fifth day of Christmas, the students gave to […]

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Libertarian education: marginal experiment or instrument of social change?

Listen to the talks by Luca Lapolla. “Is libertarian education really possible within a neoliberal society? Why have libertarian education experiences always been marginal? What role can libertarian education have in overcoming the present situation? To think about possible answers to these questions, we held our fourth Applied History Network event at MayDay Rooms in London on 19 April 2016. The idea to organise this event came after a reflection on my personal experiences as a teacher in mainstream schools, and took shape when I noticed that the debates on libertarian education at the last London Anarchist Bookfair (October 2015) […]

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Governors opportunity at SML College

Due to growing popularity of the College both nationally and internationally, we are will be expanding our governing body which is made up of a diverse group of academics, professionals and members of the College community. This is an opportunity to be part of a unique and expanding educational venture. If you’d like to proactively support our work and play a part in our progress please contact Ian Cunningham for more info. ian@csml.org.uk        

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Arts Award

We continue to use this excellent qualification that has been developed by the Arts Council. The advantage to us is that it allows students to create their own personalised portfolios of real learning and at the same time gain GCSE level qualifications. While older students generally do take their own selections of GCSEs such exams are often limited in not showing the full extent of student learning. The Arts Award allows a much richer picture of achievement to show through. Another advantage over GCSEs is that we have three qualified assessors in our tutor team so that we can do […]

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