Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is a long‐term chronic condition that is complex to manage, with the majority of management being done by the person with diabetes outside of the clinical setting. Because of its complexities, effective self‐management requires skills, confidence and the ability to make decisions and choices about treatments and lifestyle on a day‐to‐day basis. Equipping a person with these self‐management skills is in itself challenging and it is now widely accepted that structured education is an integral part of the management of T2DM. This paper explores whether structured self‐management education can improve outcomes in people with diabetes. The authors explore what self‐management education is, why it is needed and then go on to examine the recent evidence from clinical trials from 2006 onwards.