A Strategic Approach

structured approach to help adults and young people tailor their learning towards achieving their goals

People As Individuals

Everyone is different and how people learn and what they need to learn is different


There are at least 89 different ways people learn – find out what works for you

Research Based

SML has been rigorously tested for over 40 years within organisations and education

What makes Self Managed Learning special?

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

Why do we need Self Managed Learning?

We know the world of work is changing and at a far faster rate than has ever been previously experienced and we see that our current schooling systems are failing to prepare our young people to succeed in this environment. We know that making a contribution and having a sense of purpose is important for individuals and therefore society … and we hear that around 75% of people are disengaged from their work and their organisations. We also recognise that work cultures and levels of engagement are heavily influenced by the behaviour of organisational leaders.

From our extensive research on successful senior leaders, we have found that a) they are highly effective learners and b) the most useful learning they have undertaken has little or nothing to do with formal education or training. Our research, and that of many other studies, shows that education (school, college, university) and training courses contribute at most 10-20% of what makes a person effective at work. Other research shows that:

  • Every individual is different in how they learn and what they need to learn
  • There are at least 89 different ways people can learn
  • Any change, including organisational change, requires people to learn
  • For organisations to succeed, learning needs to be shared and put into practice
How is Self Managed Learning different – how will it benefit me?

Through SML people, from age 7 to 70 and beyond, take responsibility for defining and achieving their learning goals. With the support of peers and advisers, they decide how, what and when they want to learn and most fundamentally why the learning is important to them. In this way it is not a ‘one size fits all’ but a truly personalised learning experience. SML is not a selfish or disconnected way of learning as people work with others to support and challenge one another; they create trusting relationships and build social capital for organisations and society.

Where is the evidence that SML works?

SML, created by Dr Ian Cunningham in the mid-1970’s, is founded on research and has been successfully deployed for over 40 years in private, public and academic sectors around the world. For the past 15 years, it has been helping young people learn what they want to learn and become who they want to be. Thousands of people have benefitted by participating in:

Case Studies

Sainsbury’s HR Development

Designed to facilitate a major shift in the way the function worked, the process was ultimately rolled out to 180 managers initially and 520 HR professionals over the following 2 years.

ST Luke’s School

St Lukes decided to pilot the process for a mixed gender group of six year 10 students. The potential participants chosen were seen as students who could achieve more and perceived as perhaps lacking in confidence.

Lifelong Learning in Ericsson

The SML approach was chosen to facilitate a change of culture to lifelong learning inline with the organisation’s strategic direction and local strategy and became an integral part of the graduate scheme.