Swansea Campus started its self-directed learning journey in summer 2015 when we were chosen to be an SDL pilot school. Over the summer holidays we installed a full SDL centre, which we were able to start using in October. It was officially opened at the start of November by Mrs Susan Jackson, as shown in this video.
Below are some photos of the SDL Centre in use:
Our Experiences with SDL
Now that we are a year into our SDL journey, we are very happy to say that both staff and pupils have taken on the challenge of this new and innovative way of learning and, with credit to both, have made it a roaring success. When the idea first came out, staff were a little apprehensive of what SDL would mean for teaching and how they would adapt their lessons to fit this new approach to learning. They felt ‘letting go’ would be difficult and there were fears that “pupils would choose an easier approach to assessment” given the opportunity. However, this was not the case, with pupils taking the initiative and showing teachers that independent learning can be worthwhile and often more fruitful than classroom based learning. Here are some testimonials we have received from staff, students and parents:
“Students have made more progress in A Level English than we have ever seen and this is a result of SDL.” Dr England
“Year 10 have adapted to SDL fantastically, even doing extra study work in their free time and holiday periods. Maths have also found a record number of Level 8’s being achieved earlier than ever, this is facilitated by the SDL progress which helps them to reach higher, further, longer!” Maths Department
“All children are different so to force them all to learn the same way and at the same pace was unfair. Now my children are allowed to progress at their own pace, which has removed so much of the frustration they used to feel.” Parent
“SDL helps our time management skills as we have to make sure we get our work in on time.” Year 9 student
“Peer teaching has been very successful all throughout the key stages in the SDL area, students don’t have to wait for a free teacher but can approach older years for help and advice, a real team approach to learning.” Teacher
“It enables you to learn in your own style, the way that suits you best.” Year 7 student
“Using a guide on the side approach means that students in the same class can all be working on different topics at different levels without the pressure and stigma that they often attach to differentiated work. This additionally frees up time for students to pursue other work possibly on Moodle at their own pace that they may not normally have the confidence to ask for in class.” Teacher
“I enjoy the freedom of choosing how to learn and how to present my work.” Year 8 student
“SDL isn’t only a pretty way of learning, it’s a lifestyle” Year 13 student
“I find that my children are far more engaged with learning and enthused about school than they ever used to be.” Parent
“SDL teaches us to plan our work and manage our time effectively which will be an essential skill when we get to work.” Year 12 Student
“SDL works for every student, whatever their ability.” Teacher
The Extension of SDL to Years 3-6
Over the summer Swansea Campus entered the national Focus competition to upgrade a traditional classroom to an SDL area. As we already have a full SDL centre for our Years 7-13 students, we decided to upgrade Mr Gratrix’s old classroom to create an SDL area for our Years 3-6 students. This will enable them to become self-directed learners from an early age.
Swansea Campus is very proud to be the runner up for the West Region in this competition. As our prize, we have received £500 and a trophy, in addition to the fact that our Years 3-6 students now have a fantastic SDL classroom.
For some examples of SDL projects at Swansea Campus, please visit: