Co-operative schools have rapidly grown in number over recent years as Government policy has opened up opportunities to develop new governance models. Giving a voice to stakeholder members – staff, parents, students and the local community – co-operative trust and academy schools are values-driven but faith neutral. They retain an element of democratic accountability which roots them in their communities.
A co-operative model for converter Academies was first approved by the DfE in 2010. The model was developed in partnership with a group of co-operative Trust schools who wanted to pursue academy status in view of the additional freedoms and funding available, whilst maintaining the essential characteristics of co-operative Trusts:
An ethos based on our globally shared co-operative values – which are included through a specific values clause in the articles for a co-operative Academy.
Direct engagement of key stakeholders and the local community in governance through membership and a members’ forum.
In addition the model provides a link to a mutual support network of co-operative schools through the Schools Co-operative Society – a co-operative itself, owned and democratically controlled by co-operative schools. Many schools which are currently members of co-operative Trusts are now pursuing or considering conversion to co-operative Academy status.
“The membership scheme and forum offered by the co-operative model will provide the local community with a stronger voice in the education provision in this area and help shape future developments. Their expertise and experience will also strengthen our governance. We endorse the co-operative values and will build on our existing partnerships and work with new partners for the benefit of all our pupils and the local community. The freedoms offered by becoming an Academy bring greater financial security and more options for our small school. We are very excited about it.”
– Head teacher, Cumbria