SML College Newsletter October 2023
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SML College Newsletter October 2023

Update by Dr Ian Cunningham


Luke Scott Martin was appointed as the full time Premises Supervisor at the end of July and has already been working hard over the summer on premises improvements and repairs.

Jessie Beagley started as Learning Support Officer at the end of August to provide much needed full time support for students.

The College premises

Over the summer there have been significant developments in the College premises. The Design/Technology Workshop was completed in the area off the sports hall. We are now busy garnering tools and equipment – contact Lars Schuy at if you want a copy of our list of needs.

The Recording Studio was completed and is already being used. Having the drum kit in there has meant much less noise disturbance in adjoining rooms. And it gives us two music spaces instead of one.

Luke created a sensory room near the front of the building for students needing a small comfortable and attractive space for a time out.

Rethinking Education Conference

Saturday 23rd of September saw the second of the Rethinking Education Conferences. Attracting over 500 participants it brought together parents, teachers and those of us providing education outside school. I ran a session about subverting school for parents and young people. As I explained this was not about trivialised rebellion against schooling but rather the need for parents to help their offspring to get a good start in life when often the messages from school were not helpful to young people.

I used a take on the TV programme ‘Would I Lie to You’ by presenting statements and then suggesting which were true and which were lies. As a starter I offered the statement that ’School is the preferred option for the education of children but some parents are allowed to home educate.’ The answer is that it’s a lie. In law there are two equally valued options for parents when choosing education – school or ‘otherwise’. The law does not say school is preferable – and as part of ‘otherwise’ we can show that it can be a better option.

Another statement was: ‘School uniforms improve academic results and make schools better places’ – which is, of course, a lie. Research evidence does not support this.

Less obvious was: ‘The application of STEM subject learning at work contributes more to the UK economy than digital/creative learning.’ This is also a lie. The digital/creative industries contribution to the UK economy is, from the Government’s own figures, significantly greater. Parents and young people can be misled that the focus on academic subjects to the neglect of creative areas is the best career option.

The last option was: ‘Schools help to improve mental health’. This is not only a lie but the opposite of truth. Research shows that school attendance increases mental illness.

My aim in running the session was to help parents counter the misinformation that young people are often given by schools but also in the media.

Anyone wanting more information about my session can contact me –

Student Art Showcase

We are really pleased to share some of the recent artwork created by the students. We’ll share more in the next newsletter too, but are sure that’ll you’ll agree that the students are very talented!


Nearly all our students took and passed GCSEs. However we know that often this is a necessary nuisance so that the individual could get onto a course that they wanted to take. In many cases we need to congratulate the students for their fortitude as well as their knowledge in coping with time-tested exams.

In a different league are the Arts Awards that four students gained at the Silver Level. This is the equivalent to a GCSE pass ie it is a level 2 qualification on the same level as GCSEs. What is great about this is that it is very self managing with students choosing their own topics and projects and allowing our staff to assess the learning via a portfolio of real work (not an exam).

SML College Hardship Fund

This month we’d like to thank the Snell Charitable Educational Fund for their recent donation to the Hardship Fund. The Hardship Fund is our main way of ensuring that SMLC is accessible to all. Please keep supporting the Fund, your support is essential - details are below of how you can help.

Support us here

And finally, did you catch Dr Ian Cunningham’s letter in The Guardian, discussing school absences? Here is a quick look…