Overhauling the education system! College thrives as it rewrites curriculum

Student success skyrockets as old school values are updated.

When we look back on our education years, no matter what school or college we attended, it’s likely all of our days were dictated by timetables and lesson plans.

Fast-forward to 2020, and things are happening a little differently.

The way future generations learn is facing a major revamp, with plans to end the current and outdated system in order to help individuals reach their full potential.

And we don’t just mean learning about mental health or managing finances, but a college with no imposed curriculum and no standardised lessons.

This model already exists as Sussex’s Self-Managed Learning College [SML] with great success, whereby students choose their own studies and how they learn them.


They are also encouraged to only be present in the mornings, giving them time to enjoy their own activities later in the day.

The college – for ages nine to 17 – is now releasing a book to showcase how they have broken down the archaic structures of mainstream schooling to introduce ground-breaking changes, entitled Self-Managed Learning and the New Educational Paradigm.

Speaking about their objectives, college founder Dr Ian Cunningham said he believes education needs to evolve as the world (and consequently, the job market) does.

Dr Cunningham said: “All young people should have access to a 21st century educational approach, rather than the current schooling model, which has remained relatively unchanged since the Victorian era.

“Jobs for life no longer exist. We need to help young people to self-assess and not depend on judgment from others. This prepares them for a life of continuous, self-managed learning, rather than teaching them how to pass tests, because we can’t possibly predict what life after school will look like.”

The college, which boasts a 100% success rate of sending pupils onto full-time work, has established 57 different ways that young people can learn to suit their individual abilities.

Dr Cunningham continued: “Conventional schools say to students: ‘We have decided what we’re going to teach you, you have no say in this, nor in the social arrangements in the school. When the bell rings you must get up and go somewhere else to do something else that you have not chosen. You will eat your food when we say you can. You are not allowed to go to the toilet without permission.’

“Our approach to the curriculum is to try and understand the kind of life an individual wants to live and what might be appropriate within that. If university is a chosen pathway, then they will have to deal with the academic requirements.

“One of our students left the college at 16 having gained a range of good grades in the qualifications he took, mostly GCSEs. A year later he came back to address current students, saying: ‘I wish I hadn’t wasted a lot of my time getting good grades.’

“He had also created a portfolio of his creative work, which he shared online. From this, he was hired to work on blockchain development for a USA company.

“The company had no interest in his exam grades. They saw his work and were happy to hire him, even though he lives on another continent. He is now being asked to build up a team in England to provide support for blockchain development work in the USA.”

The cherry on the cake, the college reports zero bullying and claims children aren’t
discriminated against as the model creates immeasurable life satisfaction.

Dr. Cunningham concluded: “The necessity of smaller schools has long been recognised in research, but it’s not just to enable a better learning environment – it’s also better for
the mental health of students.

“Research shows that the current education system adversely affects the mental health of many children, and yet nothing is being done to rectify that on a national level.

“Bullying is endemic in most schools – especially secondary schools – as most have more than the maximum 150 people required to function as learning communities.

“Young people who have experienced traumatic bullying at school are significantly more likely to suffer psychosis in adult life. Here, we ensure our students are happy, healthy and prepared for life. Any school system not delivering that is failing young people.”

Sounds like the future of learning has arrived.

Self-Managed Learning and the New Educational Paradigm is out today.


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