The Co-op Academies Trust has become the most diverse multi-academy trust in the country after welcoming two special schools in Bradford.
With Co-op Academy Southfield and Co-op Academy Delius, the trust now educates more than 15,000 students at 23 academies and colleges across northern England. It takes in a full range of abilities and ages, from early years to sixth form.
As of 1 June, the trust also includes the Grange Technology College (Co-op Academy Grange), which sits next to Co-op Academy Southfield in Haycliffe Lane.
Last year the Co-op Group, which is now the largest corporate sponsor of academies, announced a multi-million pound plan to accelerate the roll-out of its academy schools programme. The group plans to treble the number of academies it sponsors to 40 in the next three years.
The trust operates academies in some of the most economically challenged areas in the UK. It is made up of 10 primaries, 10 secondaries and a sixth form college as well as the two new special schools.
Frank Norris, director of the Co-op Academies Trust, said: “I strongly believe that our diversity is a strength. These two new special schools have strong leadership and highly qualified specialist and dedicated staff that means we now have an overall 3-19 SEND (special educational needs or disabilities) provision, which can only benefit our trust as a whole trust.”
“The Co-op also has a purpose beyond making a profit, and supporting schools is seen as part of its community engagement and support. Indeed, a good school can do so much to enhance an area for all those living there.
“Our trust has demonstrated that co-operative values and principles, strong governance and the ability to leverage the support of the Co-op in areas such as brand, communications, HR, property, insurance and IT, can have a dramatic impact on school improvement.
“Co-op colleagues serve as school governors and provide mentoring and careers advice along with work placement support.”
Dominic Wall, headteacher at Co-op Academy Southfield, said: “We’re delighted to be joining the Co-op Academies Trust. It has a proven track record of supporting and improving schools and so everyone is really excited about the future.”
Sally Joy, headteacher at Delius, added: “We already have a good working relationship with Southfield Special School and I am sure that will be strengthened still further now we are both part of the Co-op Academies Trust.”