About Us

The Centre for Self Managed Learning (CSML) is a UK registered charity. The Centre was established as a non-profit organisation in 1993 and was granted charitable status in 2005

Self Managed Learning (SML), created by Dr Ian Cunningham, is a unique, research-based and practically proven approach to learning that delivers significant benefits over conventional methods.

Our aim is to develop and promote the wider use of Self Managed Learning for people of all ages, in all sectors of society. We are dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of learning in society by continuing the development of the methods and application of SML

  • Providing free access to information, research, news and articles about SML
  • Collaborating with universities and other bodies on new research and publications
  • Creating events, workshops and conferences to increase levels of understanding
  • Providing programmes for different sectors

The charity is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of people who have a deep commitment to SML, most of whom have personally experienced the approach. They meet at least 3 times a year to plan and review strategy and financial governance. CSML publishes annual financial reports which are lodged with both Companies House and the Charities Commission.

Programmes have been provided in a wide variety of contexts, including

For Organisations

In the private, public and voluntary sectors in the UK and internationally. Strategic Developments International Limited (SDI), a social enterprise consultancy which donates its net profits to the charity, has provided programmes for people at all levels from CEO’s to apprentices, both in-house and across consortia. The SML framework has been used to support businesses in a number of different contexts, including leadership development, business development and cultural change.

For Young People

Outside mainstream schooling through the Self Managed Learning College. The College is the Centre’s main project, led by its Chair of Governors, Dr Ian Cunningham, providing SML to students aged 9 – 16 in Sussex since 2002. The College also provides regular placement opportunities for university students who wish to study the approach.

In Schools

In schools and other education settings around the world including Europe, Asia and the Americas. An example case study of a programme is St Luke’s school in Portsmouth, UK.

In Other Contexts

Including higher level educational qualification programmes from HND to MSc level, parent groups, sports coaches and people nearing retirement.

Board Of Trustees

ANNE GIMSON

Anne has been involved with the Centre since its inception in 1995, initially as a Director and then as Chair of Trustees from 2009. She stepped down as Chair at the end of 2019 and continues as a member of the board of trustees.

She has worked alongside the creator of SML, Ian Cunningham, for over 25 years. She is a seasoned and deeply experienced Learning Group Advisor and is passionate about bringing the benefits of SML to individuals of all ages, but particularly to leaders in large, complex and global organisations.

Anne is the CEO of the consultancy Strategic Developments International Limited, which financially supports the Centre. She provides leadership development programmes and executive coaching support for organisations across all sectors in the UK and Europe. She is also the Editor in Chief for the international journal ‘Development & Learning in Organizations’ and previously served on the governing bodies of two schools.

Anne currently lives in Monmouthshire with her partner and daughter, enjoying walking in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains.

AVIS CARTER

Avis is a member of the Governing Body of the Self Managed Learning College and has represented the former as a Trustee on the Board of the Charity since 2015.

She became interested in Self Managed Learning as a well-researched and effective method, when her home-educated daughter attended the College from 2008-2011 before moving on to higher education and who is currently studying music at Leeds College of Music. During her daughter’s time at the College, Avis was a regular volunteer and acted as a parent representative on the governing body.

Before becoming a home-educating parent, Avis studied law at the London School of Economics moving on to teach law at Middlesex University.   She returned to college in her daughter’s teen years to study horticulture and now works for a local environmental charity and as a freelance gardener.

In addition to gardening, she also enjoys walking and, as reported at the time in the local paper, once spotted the ‘Beast of Bevendean” – a large wild cat known to roam the Brighton area.

BEN BENNETT

Ben became a Director of the Centre for Self Managed Learning in 1994 and currently acts as the Charity’s Treasurer.

He has been actively involved with Self Managed Learning for more than 20 years and has published articles and co-authored four books in the fields of Self Managed Learning, coaching and work based learning.

Ben spent the greater part of his career as a researcher, practitioner and consultant in the fields of individual and organisational learning, latterly as senior lecturer in individual and organisational development at the University of Westminster. He retired in 2010.

He enjoys life with family and friends in a very busy household. He goes cycling whenever he can and brews his own beer.

JONATHAN PAIN

Jonathan has been a Trustee of the Centre since 2020.

He became aware of Self Managed Learning in 2019, having looked into a number of different intervention programmes as part of his studies towards a SENCO qualification within mainstream Secondary education. Jonathan has worked as a teacher and advisor for 16 years, in a wide variety of different roles and has experience of working in Primary, Secondary and Special schools within Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire. Jonathan is keen to research and explore the potential applications of Self Managed Learning as an intervention/approach in mainstream school settings.

He has an interest in lifelong learning, both his own and that of others, and is always looking for new ways to adapt his learning styles and to expand his breadth of knowledge. Since 2015, he has taken and/or delivered a number of training courses within mainstream education, with a particular focus on supporting students with social, emotional and mental health needs, specific learning difficulties and those with disabilities.

Jonathan lives in Hampshire with his wife, two children and two cats. He regularly supports a number of local community groups and events and plays piano, drums and percussion in a few jazz bands and orchestras, as well as at his local church.

LIZ BARLOW

Liz has been involved with the Centre since 1997 and has served two terms as a trustee since the organisation became a Charity.

She came across Self-Managed Learning in 1992 and she believes that being accepted onto the Self-Managed Learning MSc in Managing Change was one of the major events in her life. It has led to a lifelong continued interest in Self-Managed Learning.

Liz feels that she didn’t fulfil her potential at school; she was petrified of the head at Junior school and then endured indifferent teaching and rigid streaming at Grammar School.

Following a varied leadership career in both the public and private sectors, ranging from banking and finance to the civil service, she has been a management consultant since 2000, specialising in collaboration and facilitation in addition to her work as a Learning Group Adviser with Strategic Developments International.

As a farmer’s daughter, Liz’s love of animals continues today through her involvement with alpacas. She screens alpacas for the British Alpaca Society, acts as a judge in the UK and Europe and provides training for aspiring judges and other breeders.

MALCOLM WOLF

Malcolm joined the Centre as a Trustee in 2020 and is excited to have the opportunity to make a contribution to the charity and learn more about the potential of new models of education such as Self Managed Learning.

His enthusiasm for learning widely, deeply and eclectically has been an essential driver of growth and change in his life. In his thirty-year career as a Management Consultant he has drawn heavily on the power of people taking responsibility for their own learning. As a former Partner of both McKinsey & Co, and KPMG, he has served clients all over the world on issues of Business Strategy, Technology, Organization and Leadership

His cultural and spiritual interests include a long-standing Buddhist practice, and he often goes ‘off-the-grid’ on extended silent meditation retreats. He has undertaken foundation trainings in both Integrative Psychotherapy and Group Psychoanalysis, and is a qualified teacher of Mindfulness Meditation.

He lives with his wife in Brighton, and they have two adult sons and two young granddaughters.

SAM STORY

Sam joined CSML as a Trustee and the Director of Research in 2018, and was elected as Chair of Trustees in 2020. He first found out about Self Managed Learning in 2011 when he took a sabbatical to investigate why so many young people are unprepared for modern citizenship.

He founded the charity, Guidance for Youth, to help young people experience the benefits of taking responsibility, valuing themselves and others, planning for the future and building relationships. Self Managed Learning was selected as the most appropriate framework to deliver this to over 50 students in Dorset between 2012 and 2017. He is passionate about the long-term success of CSML and using impartial research to demonstrate effectiveness.

Sam has worked as an IT consultant for almost 20 years across the private and public sectors. He spent 7 years working at Bristol University Medical School and has been involved with a large number of clinical trials. He currently works for an automaton company in Dorset that specialize in Cell Line Development Research.

Sam lives in Dorset with his wife and two daughters and likes heading down to the beach in winter when it’s all calm and peaceful.

VIKKI MATTHEWS

Vikki has been a Trustee of the Centre since 2015 and also acts as the Centre’s Company Secretary.

She became involved in Self Managed Learning in 2008 when she introduced Self Managed Learning as the central tenet of the Leadership Development strategy for Nike across Europe. Having seen firsthand the power of the approach in terms of building competence, confidence and a culture of coaching and feedback, she is committed to spreading the word and supporting the ongoing development of the Charity.

She has an international HR background in organisations including Nike, Vodafone, AXA and more recently the University of Plymouth. Since 2016, she has operated as a consultant and executive coach, she delivers SML programmes in organisations as part of the Strategic Developments International team and she lectures on HR and leadership related issues at undergraduate and Masters level.

She lives in Devon with her husband, daughter and their two hypo-allergenic cats, and enjoys taking advantage of the beautiful moor and coastal landscapes that the location offers.