Self-managed Learning Groups (SMLs)

The Kent Branch of CIPD supports a network of Self-managed Learning/ Continuing Professional Development (SML/ CPD) groups, which are unique to the branch and are open to members and non CIPD members. The request for such groups came directly from CIPD members back in 2003 when some of the groups were originally established:

The groups meet in different parts of the county and mostly focus on generic HR issues. However, some have specific interests in training and development and coaching, for example, and all have their own set of ground rules. At least one group has its own ‘group values’ developed by the group.

Each group runs quite differently and fluidly to meet member’s individual learning needs, but the core purpose of the Groups is to provide learning, problem solving and networking opportunities for participants in a local, safe, confidential and supportive environment to support continuous personal and professional development.

Kevin Pollard
Branch SML liaison

Canterbury SML Group 

This group meets approximately every six weeks during term time on a Friday morning at 09:00 in the Lounge at the Abbotts Barton Hotel, New Dover Road, Canterbury. It is a very informal group who come together to share best practice and exchange ideas. We run an ‘open event’ once a year in conjunction with the East and South Kent Group, usually in the spring. (Approx. 12 members)

SML liaison: Maxine Blades

East Kent Coaching SML Group 

The purpose of the East Kent Coaching Group is to raise standards of coaching and mentoring by sharing experience, networking and learning, supporting each other in our roles and aspirations. The group meets in Canterbury on the last Thursday of every month (except August and December) between 18:30 and 20:30. It is open to anyone with an interest coaching and mentoring.

We usually have a topic as a focus for each meeting, with sessions led by group members or occasionally by visiting speakers. We aim to keep meetings informal with plenty of opportunity for discussion and the sharing of learning and experience. (Approx. 20 members currently)

SML liaison: Bradley O'Connell

Maidstone SML Group 

This group meets in and around Maidstone every second Wednesday of the month (except during August) between 16:00 and 18:00. It was established in March 2003 and topics covered include the whole range of HR and L&D. We have the practice of sharing learning logs at our more formal meetings and alternate months we meet to catch up between 16:30 and 17:30 at Caffé Nero in the High Street. For the past 5 years we have also met for a Christmas lunch in December. (Approx. 12 members currently)

SML liaison: Sarah Brocklehurst

Medway SML Group 

The Medway SML group is a small, friendly group of HR/L&D practitioners who meet on a quarterly basis to share best practice and experience across a range of sectors. Topics range from Employment Law to Health and Wellbeing, HR Strategy to Coaching. Sessions are planned on an annual basis and are based on the requests of group members.

We meet on a quarterly basis and usually have a planned topic for discussion, inviting in guest speakers/facilitators along where possible. The sessions are usually on a Wednesday morning 08:30-10:30 and the venue is sourced from within the group. Our group exists on the understanding that we will all share information and support knowledge transfer to other members of the group in a safe and confidential environment. We use pre and post session time to talk about any other issues that may be on individual agendas where they may want input/support from the rest of the group. (Approx. 12 members currently)

SML liaison: L Brooks

Senior Practitioners 

To be established once sufficient members have expressed an interest.

West Kent Coaching SML Group 

To be established once sufficient members have expressed an interest.

West Kent L&D SML Group 

An opportunity to learn and network

We are open to learning and development professionals and coaches. Meetings are held in venues in Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough every other month between 18:00 and 20:00, alternating between the 3rd Tuesday and Wednesday. We have a topic for each meeting which is usually led by one of the members with lots of discussion. This is followed by "hot topics" where members can raise issues that they would like support/ideas. To further share best practice and learning we have a "60 seconds" slot where members can share a book, article, quote, exercise, You Tube clip etc, that they have found inspiring and helpful. (Approx. 12 members currently)

Here is what two members have to say about being part of our group:

'A great group to belong to as a self-employed Learning and Development Consultant and Trainer – a group of like-minded professionals from a variety of different backgrounds who are generous in sharing their experience and expertise. I have picked up really useful tips, been challenged to look at topics in a different way and had the opportunity to share my input to the group. We also bring in expertise from outside the group when needed, and welcome new members to share their knowledge as well as learn from the group. On top of this we have a lot of fun and enjoy each other’s company.'
Angela Suter

'As an HR Manager attending the Self-managed Learning Group has added an immense amount of value to my role as a Human Resources Professional. I have acquired many creative ideas and gained so much knowledge from true L&D professionals that our internal training sessions are far more interesting and fun! Also, this forum is an excellent place to share ideas and best practice.'
Glenda Rogers

SML liaison: Leanne Davies

For more information and to contact the leader of the SML, please email the Kent branch.

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