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


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.

Dr Ian Cunningham

Ian chairs the Governing Body of Self Managed Learning College in Sussex, which has been open for young people between the ages of 9 and 17 since 2001.

He created Self Managed Learning in the 1970’s. He was the first person to be awarded a PhD in Management Learning from the University of Lancaster. He has published six books and over 120 articles and papers in areas such as education, learning, leadership and organisational change.

He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Utah, Middlesex University and the Technical Teacher Training Institute, Bhopal and most recently in Organisational Learning at Kodolányi János University of Applied Science, Hungary. He also chairs Strategic Developments International Ltd, a social enterprise consultancy working across all corporate sectors. In the latter capacity he has acted as a learning consultant to most of the world’s largest international companies as well as to the UK National Health Service, Government departments and local authorities.

He is a dancer with the Three Score Dance Company in Brighton. His last educational qualification (2011) was to qualify as an oxy-acetylene welder.


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 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.