Co-operatives in the UK

School co-operatives and
co-operative schools
Experience from the UK
Julie Thorpe
Head of School and Youth Programmes
Co-operative College, UK
Co-operatives in the UK
The current context:
• Co-operative renaissance
led by the Co-operative
– Membership
– Turnover
– Brand with strong
emphasis on values,for
example Fairtrade, green
– Appeal of ethically-driven
business in current
financial climate
– The revolution
Co-operatives in the UK
• The current context:
– Coalition government’s ‘Big Society’
“A co-op has a flexibility and dynamism that a
central state agency lacks. Like the Rochdale
Pioneers, a co-op is part of the community it
serves. Its interests are their interests. And it is
able to respond to the needs of the community
immediately and directly.”
- David Cameron
Co-operative College
• Established 1919
• Training members and
• Looking after our
• International work
• Research
• Schools and young
Why we work with schools
• “I asked them if they could tell me
how many wives Henry VIII had
and what were their names. The
majority of boys in the class could
answer that question straight away,
but when I asked if they could tell
me who was Robert Owen and
when he was born, or on what day
the British co-operative movement
was founded, they could not give
me any answer.”
A V Alexander
Enterprise Network
• Funding
• Access to 20,000+ state primary and secondary schools
Young Co-operatives
Free resources
Three models
Provides many curriculum links
Appeals to young people’s sense of fairness
Raises questions of ethics in the supply chain
Adds a global dimension
• Horticulture and food production
• Waste management and recycling projects
• Programmes with
awarding body
Stepping Stones
Key Steps
Enterprise Award
Certificate of
Values-driven schools
• Co-operative whole-school ethos
• Deeply embedded values
• Raising standards
Schools as co-operatives
• 1 to 100 in two years
• the multi-stakeholder
trust model
• Embedding in the
• Linking to values in
the curriculum and
Schools Co-operative Society
• Services to co-operative
• Joint procurement
• A voice in the policy
A Co-operative Trust School
• 11-16 Co-educational
• Oldham Local Authority
• Specialist Sports College
• 1500 students on roll
• 89 teaching and 68 nonteaching staff
• Private Finance Initiative
funded building (3yrs old).
• Improved results for each
of last six consecutive
Ethical Enterprise Challenge
Schools as co-operatives
Case study: Failsworth School
• Oldham MBC were reorganising the
schools, and it was likely a number of
academies would be set up.
• Those schools would have power over
admissions – but we wouldn’t.
• As a form of protection, the school
worked to gain Trust status.
• The chosen Trust route was through the
co-operative society.
• Oldham now has three academies.
• Failsworth School has a new head teacher.
• The Government has put in austerity packages
across all of local Government to save money/cut
• Oldham was already in huge debt, but also has
additional savings to make.
• The LA is charging more for its services to schools.
• Education in the UK is in a state of flux/transition, as
the local government support is taken away.
• Many new companies are appearing – to provide
services at a big cost, but no certainty of quality.
• Failsworth School works closely with its feeder and other
local Primary schools.
• This joint-work has increased under the new Head at
• It is built around co-operative values and principles.
• The Failsworth Co-operative Trust – which includes that
joint work – will have to grow to be self-supporting.
• The old work of the Local Authority will be taken up by
the FCT to bond together our strengths and have greater
buying power to support improvement and provision.
• We are a not-for-profit organisation, supporting our
community whilst looking outwards beyond Failsworth to
raise aspirations.
• The Local Authority.
• The Co-operative Group.
• Oldham Sixth Form College.
• We are confident our local Primaries will
join us formally as individuals or as a
• We want to increase this to reflect the
whole community through the Stakeholder
• The Trust is essentially still a blank canvas – but we are
beginning to doodle on it!
• We are working on transitional curriculums – 5 – 11 – 16
– 19.
• We will be appointing a Family Liaison/ Attendance
officer to work across the Trust schools.
• We will be working with a local University to accredit and
deliver training programmes for staff.
• We will be looking to buy cheaper energy/ phones/
supplies because of being a bigger buying group.
• We are looking to appoint our own Educational
Psychologist to work across the schools.
• We are offering budget support to our local primaries as
part of our joint working.
International linking
• Lesotho
• South Africa
• Europe