Schools Co-operative Society

  • The Schools Co-operative Society

    As the apex body of the co-operative education sector, we co-ordinate, support and give a voice to the 100s of Co-operative Trusts and Co-operative Academies across the UK. We work with a network of regional groups and co-operative partners providing local support and a joined up national approach.

    The Co-operative movement has operated for over 160 years across a large number of fields, from finance to farming and retail. Over the last ten years a revolution in the way schools can operate and be organised has allowed the creation of an education sector of the UK Co-operative Movement.

    Just as the co-operative way of running a business, or association, presents an alternative to the more traditional 'plc' approach, Co-operative Schools offer an alternative way of educating our children by putting the community and needs of the stakeholders at the centre of the educational process.


There are different views about how the International Co-operative Movement started. Whichever view you take, the establishment of the society by the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844 was a significant moment. Although they established a shop in the town, many would argue that their aim was much greater – they wanted to change the world! Given that co-operatives now have a significant influence on the lives of many people it could be argued that they achieved just what they set out to do!

Co-operative enterprises provide the organisational means whereby a significant proportion of humanity is able to take into its own hands the task of creating productive employment, overcoming poverty and achieving social integration” 

Kofi Anan, speaking as Secretary General, The United Nations

From the very early days, good education was seen as central to the development of the co-operative ideal. In the UK there were a number of early attempts to establish Co-operative Schools but they have only really started to appear in significant numbers over the last five years.

By the mid 1900s very few schools in the UK were directly using Co-operative Values and Principles. In 2004 a pioneering project by the Co-operative Group and Co-operative College established eight Co-operative Business and Enterprise Specialist Colleges. This network was soon expanded to over a dozen schools.

The network developed curriculum materials and worked together to develop their schools. By 2007 a number of these schools started to look at ways they could develop the Co-operative School ideal into governance.

The educational co-operative sector has now developed into a significant force with over hundreds of Co-operative Schools mixed between Co-operative Foundation Trusts and Co-operative Academies.

The Schools Co-operative Society was founded in 2009 to co-ordinate these schools and to provide a shared approach, vision and voice.

Our vision

As a co-operative owned by our member schools we aim to provide them with the support and encouragement that will enable them to be highly successful schools.

Our network aims to:

  • promote co-operative values and principles.
  • facilitate mutual support through sharing good practice.
  • develop collaborative learning between local schools and their communities.
  • promote strong governance through building the skills and capacity of parents, students and staff to contribute.

As a network we should aim for our schools to be the preferred:

  • choice for young people and parents when selecting a school.
  • choice for staff when seeking a position in a school

A central feature of Co-operative Schools, in addition to our shared values, is the way we work together to support each other.

Are you an academy sponsor?

We have developed a number of SCS sponsored Academy Trusts across the country including Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and t...

Read More