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Co-operative vision for school futures

The Schools Co-operative Society (SCS), the apex body for all co-operative schools, has outlined its vision to work with the new government as further education reforms were announced in the Queen’s Speech. The SCS, which represents over 850 primary and secondary schools in England, has outlined a partnership approach  with the Co-operative College.

In a joint statement, the chief executives of both organisations have committed to working with the new government to raise standards and outcomes for young people, create a world class education system for all, and further develop the co-operative self-improving school system.

“We will actively work with the Department for Education (DfE) to create sustainable models of school organisation, including co-operative multi-Academy Trusts, that will improve outcomes for all and develop young people who are active, engaged citizens within modern British society,” said SCS Chief Executive Dave Boston.

“The SCS and the Co-operative College will continue to support our family of schools to deliver the highest standards and outcomes. This is an exciting time for co-operative schools as they look to build upon a values-driven approach to school improvement.”

The first state school to adopt a co-operative governance model in England converted in 2008. Since then a further 850 schools have been attracted to the models where parents, staff, students and local communities have a clear voice and co-operative values underpin leadership, governance, teaching and learning.

“Prime Minister David Cameron highlighted a number of years ago in a speech in Manchester how he felt that a co-operative built around the needs of children is an ideal model to engage parents. We are seeking to further build on this shared understanding to create a world class future for co-operative schools,” said Simon Parkinson, the new Chief Executive and Principal of the Co-operative College.

“The co-operative movement has a longstanding commitment to outstanding education for all. We look forward to continuing this by working with the new government, The SCS and our growing network of schools to continue the drive for an education experience which supports all young people to reach their full potential.”

The vision has been backed by a large number of head teachers including Haywood Academy in Stoke-on-Trent and Burnt Mill Academy Trust in Harlow, which both operate multi-Academy-Trusts and are two of the most successful co-operative schools in the country. The Chief Executive and Executive Head teacher of Haywood Academy, Carl Ward, which operates the City Learning Trust, a 3-19 partnership of eight schools covering 3,500 pupils, and whose school became the first in the country to receive two national awards for both Pupil Premium and Character Education this year, thinks that co-operative values have made a real difference to the success of his schools. “With seven of our eight schools classed as good or above by Ofsted and results strong across the board we feel that our values and ethos are making a real difference to every pupil in each of our schools,” he commented.

Burnt Mill Academy Trust was recently recognised by Lord Nash on a visit. He said: “I am very impressed with how focused students are here at Burnt Mill and how dedicated they are. The lessons I saw were really excellent; the children were engaged and the teaching was strong.”

Helena Mills, Head teacher at Burnt Mill Academy Trust, said: “Our strength is based on schools working together. I have witnessed first-hand over the last year and a half how powerful we are as a group of schools. We live and breathe our co-operative solidarity principle and will do anything to help each other out.”

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