The Schools Co-operative Society and the Co-operative College have said they are ready to work with the government to ensure co-op solutions are part of the country’s education offering.
As the Queen’s Speech revealed plans for an education bill to raise standards in schools, the two organisations outlined a vision to create a world-class education system for all through the further development of a school led self-improving system.
At the state opening of parliament, the Queen said: “Legislation will be brought forward to improve schools and give every child the best start in life, with new powers to take over failing and coasting schools and create more academies.”
David Cameron said the government is championing “social justice” and this starts with a “decent schooling for every child, no matter where they’re from”.
The prime minister added: “Our school reforms in the last parliament were bold; one million more children are now learning in good or outstanding schools. In this Parliament they will be bolder still: taking over and turning into Academies not just failing schools but coasting ones too, as part of our new Education and Adoption Bill; opening not just a few more Free Schools, but 500 more.”
In a joint statement the College along with the SCS – the apex body that represents 850 co-op schools – pledged to work with the Department of Education to create a range of sustainable models of school organisation, including co-operative multi-academy trusts.
David Boston, chief executive of SCS, said: “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-op schools.”
Simon Parkinson, chief executive and principal of the College, added: “The co-operative movement has a long-standing commitment to outstanding education for all. We look forward to continuing this by working with the new government, 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.”
Headteachers from two of the most successful co-operative schools in the country have expressed support for this vision. Haywood Academy in Stoke-on-Trent became the first in the country to receive two national awards for both pupil premium and character education. The academy, currently known as the City Learning Trust, is a 3-19 partnership of eight schools covering 3,500 pupils.
Carl Ward, chief executive and head teacher of Haywood Academy, said: “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.”
Burnt Mill Academy Trust in Harlow also welcomed the vision set forward by the College and SCS. Head teacher Helena Mills commented: “Our strength is based on schools working together. I have witnessed first-hand 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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