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Bristol Learning Community draws on a variety of established educational philosophies and methods, as well as our own experiences in the practice of facilitating self directed learning, with our own families and in community.

Our Approach: What's Happening
Our Approach: Activities


Self-directed learning is a process in which individuals are responsible for, with or without the support of others, in: identifying their learning needs; developing learning goals; sourcing internal, human and material resources for learning; selecting and making use of appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.


Self Managed Learning was developed in a number of educational and organisational contexts from 1978 by Dr Ian Cunningham, who went on to establish the Self Managed Learning College in Sussex in 2001. Since then the effectiveness of this approach has been validated by independent research. We have been fortunate to have been supported by Ian to set up the Bristol Learning Community, including many hours of training and consultancy on the practice of Self Managed Learning.


Bristol Learning Community is part of the Agile Learning Center Network and therefore benefits from an international community of people who facilitate self directed learning. Agile Learning Centers use practical and concrete project management tools, to provide visible feedback, effective self-management, clarity of purpose, and easy integration of new patterns as needs change.


At Bristol Learning Community we make agreements, rather than rules. Agreements are flexible and there’s an awareness that sometimes there are good reasons for not following them. They are ideas we create together, rather than imposed by a hierarchy or power structure and there’s an implicit acceptance that everyone’s needs can coexist. By making agreements through a consensus decision making process, we are collaborating to create a shared space. 


Conflict is resolved at Bristol Learning Community using Transformative Justice, a systems approach, which sees conflict as a transformative, relational and educational opportunity for all members of the affected community. Consistent with our unconditional approach, conflict is managed without blame or judgement. Instead young people are encouraged to discuss conflict with regard to the root causes, how everyone involved has been impacted and in reference to any relevant power dynamics.


Bristol Learning Community is a tech positive space, which means that we acknowledge computers as the main tool of our era and do not seek to discourage young people from learning about and from them. We also use technology to facilitate community and learning beyond the hours of the programme.


“As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.”

― bell hooks, Teaching To Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom 

Our Approach: Quote
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