SML College Newsletter December 2023
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SML College Newsletter December 2023

Debunking Educational Myths: Empowering Parents for Informed Choices, article in Primary Times magazine

How about a fun twist on the 'Would I Lie to You' TV programme to uncover some common myths about education.

Myth 1: "School is the preferred option for children's education, and parents can only home educate with permission.”
Truth: The law says that both school and 'otherwise' education options are equally valid: school is not mentioned in law as preferable. Parents have the complete right to choose.

Myth 2: "School uniforms improve academic results and make schools better places.”
Truth: Research doesn't necessarily support this claim. It's time to think about what truly enhances learning environments.

Myth 3: "STEM subjects contribute more to the UK than digital/creative learning.”
Truth: The opposite is the truth.

SML College aims to equip parents with the knowledge to counter misinformation. Together, you can pave the way for a more balanced and student-led approach to education that prioritises the wellbeing of young people. SML College provides an alternative to mainstream schooling whereby students take responsibility for their learning in an environment that is supportive, safe and provides freedom to explore the areas that inspire them. There are morning or afternoon programmes for 9-17 year olds with no imposed teaching, no uniforms, no formal lessons and no imposed timetable. Find out more at

Dr Ian Cunningham, Advocate for Innovative Education, Returns from Nepal – press release

Dr Ian Cunningham, Chair of Governors at Self Managed Learning (SML) College in Fishersgate, has returned from an important international education conference in Nepal where he served as the keynote speaker. During this event, he had the opportunity to present his ideas to the Nepali Minister of Education.

Dr Cunningham's presentation focused on the practical approach of putting learners at the forefront of 21st-century education. The inspiration for this approach came from his decades long research on Self Managed Learning which led to him establishing SML College, known for its unique learner-centred model, which challenges traditional educational norms.

SML College stands out by offering a non-traditional learning environment with no prescribed curriculum, no traditional classrooms and no fixed timetables. Students between the ages of 9 and 16 have the freedom to explore subjects in a way that suits their individual needs.

Dr Ian Cunningham's return from Nepal signifies an important step toward a global conversation around reimagining education with a focus on the student. His efforts are set to inspire a broader conversation on how to make education more responsive to individual learning styles and bring SML College to the global stage. This conference marks a significant milestone in promoting a learner-centric approach to education worldwide.

Ian Cunningham Nepal

National Gallery collaboration

Ian was contacted over the summer to work with the National Gallery’s education department to help them to improve educational provision. Two of their staff visited in October and then emailed after the visit as follows:

Dear Ian

Many thanks for last week’s visit.  You were so generous with your time and we really appreciated you sharing your approach.  You gave us much to think about and we have already started to reflect on what is might mean for our new space and programmes.

With best wishes


Caroline Smith, Children and Young People’s Leadership Manager, National Gallery

National Gallery Visit

Camping Trip

Earlier this term Lars organised an overnight camp-out on Truleigh Hill. The trip included a hike to Devils Dyke, camp fires and climbing trees. The students loved the trip and asked the next day if they could do it again in the winter! Perhaps a little chilly!

Camping Trip

Coming soon, the SMLC Big Art Raffle in aid of the Hardship Fund

Our pre-Christmas raffle to raise vital funds for the Hardship Fund is going to be a very special Big Art Raffle. To showcase the talents of the students, items of student and staff art will be mixed with donated contemporary prints including an original Art of Banksy print and a Postman print. In addition work from local artists has been generously donated by the IO Gallery in Sydney Street, Brighton to create an exciting raffle to raise funds so that all families who need to can access the vital work of the College. Keep an eye out in December for tickets. We are very grateful for all the kind and generous contributions made. Best of all every pound raised goes to the Hardship Fund.

We are still taking contributions of artwork and you have until 1 December to enter - please email a photo of the art to and you’ll help us raise even more funds.

This is a taste of what is come from our very talented artists…

Student art

And finally…

Great feedback from a parent on how well their child is doing at the College.

"I just wanted to say briefly how astonishing the change since she's started at SMLC!
I've not seen her this happy since infants. We used to struggle so much to go to school every day. It had become such a grim spectre for us both.
The difference is extraordinary & far better than I'd dare hope!
I've been very happy to see the flexibility in learning & the way the school encourages the young people to make the most of the resources that show up - the beach trip & banana bread making etc.
I love these values & think this is one of life's most useful lessons.
I just wanted to share how remarkable & validating this is to watch in my child.
My kids were essentially written off because we tick too many societal constructs - I'm so relieved she's somewhere that doesn't judge or value like this. Mainstream school damaged my children.
Thank you so so much for your invaluable work & standing up for the young people in this way." - Parent quote