The co-operative alternative at Edge Hill’s Identity, State, Education conference
The fourth annual conference on learner identity at the Centre for Learner Identity Studies (CLIS) is themed ‘Identity, State, Education’ and will take place at the Ormskirk campus of Edge Hill University from 11-13 July, providing an opportunity for researchers, practitioners and policy makers to come together and discuss learning and teaching, curriculum, policy, pedagogy and learner identities.
A symposium on day three of the conference will explore the theme ‘The Co-operative alternative – the emergence of a co-operative school sector in the marketised education system’. The symposium will hear from Mervyn Wilson, Chief Executive and Principal of the Co-operative College, Phil Arnold, Chair of the Schools Co-operative Society, Karen Healey, Head Teacher of Birches Head High School in Stoke on Trent and Discussant Dr Peter Townley, Assistant Dean at the Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University.
Mervyn Wilson said: “Whilst the idea for co-operative schools is hardly new, and Owenite followers established a number of schools in the North West in the 1830s, the rapid growth of co-operative schools in recent years provides a stark alternative to the top-down chains that have become the predominant form of structural change.”
He will explore why co-operative models are proving attractive to many schools. Do co-operative schools offer a democratic and accountable alternative to the growth of the academy chains? Are co-operative schools evidence of success of the Government’s policy new co-operative and mutuals in the public sector, and if so, what is their response? What is the potential scale of the co-operative sector within the state education sector?
Co-operatives have always been innovative in structures, and from the 19th century they established ‘secondary’ co-operatives to meet the shared needs of individual co-operative societies. That is the pattern that has been used in establishing the Schools Co-operative Society, the national network owned and democratically controlled by co-operative schools. Phil Arnold, Director of Schools Improvement at Reddish Vale Technology College, which in March 2008 became the first co-operative trust school in England, will explore how SCS will provide a voice for and services to its member organisations on issues from Schools Improvement to CPD and procurement.
The Trusts for Innovative Learning and Training (TILT) is the first co-operative Trust in Stoke-on-Trent, based on Birches Head High School in Hanley. Its slogan ‘Together we Aspire and Achieve’ highlights its clear focus on raising attainment and expectations in a challenging area where many local schools have become sponsor academies. TILT has worked hard to develop stakeholder engagement, and the model is now attracting wider interest, with three local primary schools seeking to join. Karen Healey, Head Teacher at Birches High School, will explore why the co-operative Trust was attractive to governors and how its progress in providing a real alternative to the other structural models in the city
The conference aims to explore the identity of state education in changing times. Highlights include:
- Free schools – research from Sweden.
- Schooling and social unrest – a view from London.
- Co-operative education – English perspectives.
- School improvement – raising aspirations: an English model.
- Curriculum and identity – perspectives from England, Canada, Cyprus, Estonia and elsewhere.
- Inclusion and gender, class, ethnicity, nationality and learner identity – recent research from England, Holland, Estonia, Pakistan, Lebanon and elsewhere.
- Learner and teacher expectations and their impacts on outcomes.
- Teacher education and mentoring.
- Teacher identities, standards and professionalism.
Published On: June 26, 2012
Written By: Natalie