Southwark Adult Learning is a local learning space that you might not know about yet. They are based at the Thomas Calton Centre; an enormous old school off Rye Lane. They have wonderful facilities & tutors, low prices, and a history of students going on to change careers as a result of learning with them.

Every year the centre supports Peckham Festival by running workshops & open days at their site, or giving advice in the Community Hub based in Copeland Park.

Their adult courses cross creative skills, academic subjects and fitness and, with the next courses starting in January, you’ll be just in time to learn a new skill in 2020.

Can you tell us about the building you are based in?

We have been running on this site for some years and have had thousands of students learn with us.

Thomas Calton centre began life as Choumert Road School in 1893. The architectural style is Gothic with Flemish gables and capping stones on the end wings. In 1918 it was renamed Peckham Central School and was a selective secondary school later it was renamed Thomas Calton. Thomas Calton being a London goldsmith from the 1500’s.

The earliest adult schools in London were started in 1814 here in Southwark and Choumert Road School offered classes in the evening to local people – topics included millinery, dressmaking, shorthand and typing and offered City and Guilds qualifications.

During WWII the school even had an allotment garden growing veg.. When Thomas Calton stopped being a school it became the Adult Learning Centre it is today.

So, because of its architecture, it is an amazing space with a well lit art room, a pottery room with 2 kilns, a fitness studio, and a workshop fully kitted out with upholstery tools, carving tools as well as woodwork tools and machinery.

What courses do you run?

Loads is the simple answer! We offer:

Crafts and Creative Courses – pottery, art, photography, creative writing, knitting, sewing (various levels and techniques), soft furnishings, lampshade making, woodwork, upholstery, carving and interior design.

Health and Fitness – Zumba, Pilates, yoga, tap and ballet based fitness.

Creative Writing, London History Walks and Guitar.

We also offer courses in accredited Literacy, Numeracy, English, Childcare and Food Safety. And a huge range of Family learning

Crafts and creatives mainly run for 10 weeks, but there are some shorter and weekend courses. I feel our courses are very well priced at only £5 per hour standard rate or £2.50 for concessions.

Who teaches the courses?

The tutors are all really well qualified in their subjects; many of them have their own studios and exhibit across London. Craft tutors also work for private clients or run their own (subject related) businesses.

How can people fit it around their busy schedules?

Courses are run daytime, evenings and for two weekends a term. 10 week courses even have a break to match Southwark school’s half terms – so no childcare issues.

Is it just for Southwark residents?

Our remit is to cater primarily for Southwark residents – as part of Southwark Council’s commitment to ‘create a fairer future for all’. However, out of borough learners may enrol.

And finally, how can people sign up to these courses?

They can drop in and enrol, or see the website; choose the course and complete the form; all very simple.

The new term starts on January 13th 2020 great for fulfilling that New Year’s resolution!


The entrance to The Thomas Carlton Centre is on Choumert Road next to the turning to Alpha Street.