The Co-operative College: the way forward for Academies and Free Schools?

Francis Gilbert's picture
I've speaking to a number of headteachers and teachers recently who are all working in schools which are becoming or have converted to Academy status, but are still committed to the "comprehensive" ideal: they want to welcome all children into their school regardless of ability, aptitude, religion and so forth. The reasons why they want Academy status is fairly basic: money -- or the lack of it. They need the extra "cut" that is devolved to the LA. Some have spoken of the extra "freedoms" as well -- but that's another issue.

I'm not a great fan of the Academy model for all the reasons discussed on this site. But since over a 1,000 schools are soon to be Academies, they simply can't be "wished away". Maybe bringing all the Academies together under a "comprehensive" umbrella might be a way of ensuring that Academies don't cherry-pick students and are genuine "community schools." One headteacher alerted me to the Co-operative College; if this teacher's school becomes an Academy, there's very serious talk about working closely with the College to ensure it's a genuinely fair institution. This is some information about the Co-operative College:

"The Co-operative College is an educational charity (Charity Registration No: 1060008) which works from its home in Manchester with learners and co-operatives all over the world, from schoolchildren to African worker co-operatives.

The Co-operative College is dedicated to the promotion of Co-operative values, ideas and principles within co-operatives, communities and society, from managing the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, birthplace of the modern co-operative movement, to pioneering work with schools and young people.

Since it was founded in 1919, the College has developed five key areas of work:

  • Developing members and managers.

  • Working with co-operatives globally.

  • Learning from our heritage.

  • Working with schools and young people.

  • Research on the co-operative sector.

Today, the College works with all the major co-operative societies in the UK and delivers programmes of training and education around the world to help individuals and groups achieve the level of skill, knowledge and understanding required to translate ideals into effective practice. In the UK, the College is developing new models to run schools as co-operatives.

The College has developed a broad range of partnerships to support its work with organisations that include NGOs, colleges, universities and other training providers around the world, and the Co-operative College is always building partnerships with new organisations to help build successful co-operative and mutual businesses."





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