Co-op schools campaign for a level playing field

The Co-operative Party is campaigning for a change in education legislation so that more academy and trust schools can be set up on a co-operative model rather than relying on backing from private companies.

The Co-operative Schools Bill would amend the 2006 Education Act to “level the playing field” between private companies and industrial and provident societies when trusts and academies are being established.

Co-operative schools currently have to “work around” existing legislation because no provision is made in the relevant acts for industrial and provident societies. The Co-op Party’s Ten Minute Rule Bill would introduce a clause stating:

“Where, in the Education Acts, there is any reference to the use of an incorporated structure for any purpose and which permits the use of a limited company, provision will be made so that an industrial and provident (co-operative or community benefit) society may also be used.”

The bill would also enable nursery schools to become part of co-operative trusts or academies.

The number of co-operative schools has doubled every year over the last five years as an alternative to the private sector-run school academies and trusts. Reddish Vale Technology College in Stockport became the first co-operative trust school in the UK in March 2008, and there are now 400 schools using a co-operative trust model, plus 30 that have become co-operative converter academies.

There is also a co-operative schools network and the movement estimates there will be more than 1,000 schools using a co-operative model by the next general election in 2015.

The ILP will be discussing the ‘emerging co-operative alternatives to the privatised state’ at its annual weekend school in Scarborough on 4/5 May.

More details about the weekend, entitled ‘Ethical Socialism, Capitalism and the State’, including how to book, can be found here.


See also: Are Co-operative Schools the Answer?

and: Academies and Lies

More information about the Schools Co-operative Society is here.

More about the Co-operative Party is here.