New home in Fishersgate for college with unique learning approach

Staff, students and guests at the official opening
Staff, students and guests at the official opening

A college, which provides a ‘unique’ student-centred approach to learning, has celebrated its official opening after relocating to Fishersgate last year.

SML College, based at Technology House in West Road, welcomed councillors and students to an event on Tuesday (March 6) where a presentation outlining the college’s self managed learning method was given.

Tanya Bartlett, who organised the event, said there are no classrooms, no teachers and no hierarchy at the college, which is aimed 
at young people aged nine 
to 16.

She said: “It’s unique, there’s nothing else really comparable in this part of the country.”

She said the college, which is not registered as a school, offered a ‘complete alternative’ for young people who are ‘not suited to cookie-cutter style curriculum learning’.

She said: “We have children that come because they might have struggled in mainstream school, they may have been bullied or may have learning difficulties.

“We also have students here who feel they are being held back at school, and want to go at their own pace.”

Students, who are officially registered as being home educated, attend the college every morning.

Ms Bartlett said they become independent learners who are free to explore what they want to learn. They are given structure and support in order to establish their own learning goals and develop a plan of how to achieve them.

“What we want is for them to find out for themselves what lights them up, what they are passionate about,” she said.

She said students’ progress at the college was ‘incredible’.

“Some of the students, who have been really traumatised by a school environment because they are not suited to it, they are thriving here,” she said.

The college was first set up by Dr Ian Cunningham several decades ago and was based in a rented space at the Brighton Youth Centre for the last eight years before moving to Fishersgate.

Ms Bartlett said the new premises were ‘great’ and allowed for the college to also roll out an afternoon programme.

To find out more, log on to the website www.smlcollege.org.uk or call 01273 987629.