Self Managed Learning ‘Comes of Age’


Self Managed Learning has very much come of age. It is no longer the strange experiment it was perceived to be back in 1979 when the first SML programmes were launched.  Lots of respectable organisations have used SML and the approach and philosophy is part of many peoples’ lives. But although hundreds of people have been on SML programmes, that’s still a tiny part of the population.

One aim of the Centre for Self Managed Learning is to let more people know of the benefits of SML – but not in an overly pushy way. People need to know what SML can offer – and then have the opportunity to decide for themselves. However, at present few people know that this is a possible route to learning and development. Often people hear of SML and then approach it with disbelief. As one person commented: “I’ve always felt that this was how learning ought to be – but I’ve assumed that it wasn’t possible in reality.” We need to share that ‘possible reality’. But we also need to continue to evolve the methods and applications of SML.

The CSML Network will be an arena for such continued development – so that we can all continue our own learning in a congenial and trusting environment.

  • For newcomers to the field there will be growing requirements to help people to learn to work in an SML way. This may include development programmes for set advisers, and workshops on specific topics.
  • Some people have raised the idea of accreditation for practitioners working in this field (in order to maintain quality – and improve it). It’s a controversial area – but one use of this newsletter can be the opportunity for people to debate such issues.
  • The maintenance of standards may become a growing dimension of the Centre’s work even if accreditation is not in the end an option.
  • Research on SML applications is very much on the agenda. And elsewhere in this newsletter you will find reference to work already carried out. Such research can be the basis of publications to support SML development.

We need to hear from people as to what would be useful to produce.

A final point here is that the purpose of the Centre and it’s Network ought to evolve over time. The facets outlined here are only a starter – and we need the views of people to be continually fed in to the Board of the Centre in order to facilitate this evolution.


The list that follows provides examples of organisations that have used SML for in-house programmes or have been part of the SML Consortium. It is not a complete list and it does not cover the hundreds of organisations that have sponsored people on ‘open’ or ‘public’ programmes.

Abbey National
Allied Domecq
Amersham International
Barclays Bank
British Airways
Cable and Wireless
Ladbroke Group
London Borough of Lewisham
Norwich Union Insurance Group
St Helier NHS Trust
South West Thames Regional Health Authority
Valmet (Finland)