The new educational paradigm of Self Managed Learning

A Proven Alternative to School

There’s a lot we know about how children and young people learn, for instance they are all different. Yet school assumes that children and young people will learn the same things, in the same way, at the same time, through a fixed curriculum.

The essence of the Self Managed Learning approach is that we provide a structure within which young people can plan, organise and carry out learning activities. We treat each young person as an individual, so we don’t have classrooms or an imposed curriculum. Each student is able to work out for themselves what and how they want to learn.

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.

40 Years of Research

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.


The SML approach values learning with others and collaboration. There are three elements at its core:

  1. The Learning Community
  2. The Learning Group
  3. The Learning Agreement

This structure supports the demands of individuals and organisations for the 21st century.


Self Managed Learning allows students to gain skills that are relevant to the world we live in. More importantly, they take responsibility for their own learning, can make decisions and work collaboratively.