New co-operative academy trust puts democracy at the heart of its vision

Pupils during a lesson. Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Pupils during a lesson. Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A new trust that aims to use the principles of the co-operative movement to 'turn the accepted academy model upside down' has received government permission to run schools.

The Co-operative Schools East Academy Trust said it will take a democratic 'roots-up' approach, with decisions made democratically by its members, rather than a 'top-down' approach with decisions made by a strong chief executive.

Mark Merrywest, director of the Co-operative Schools Network, said its application for government approval was deferred in February over concerns it would be 'too nice' to challenge schools, but it had since secured the backing of regional schools commissioner Tim Coulson after showing its commitment to openness, honesty and social responsibility meant it would have honest conversations if things were not working as they should.

Although the government has abandoned plans to force every school to become an academy by 2022, all schools in some areas will still be made to convert, and ministers still aspire to an all-academy system.

Mr Merrywest said the new trust could become a home for schools that did not want to join existing multi-academy trusts, as it has the values of openness, honesty and working for the community and social responsibility written into its articles of association.

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