About the project
The DTI Social Enterprise strategy, which launched in 2003, emphasised the importance of raising awareness of social enterprise in schools if, in the long term, young people were to consider social enterprise as a serious employment alternative.
Getting a positive, accurate and up to date image of co-operatives into the curriculum is also of real concern to the co-operative movement. For far too long the size, scale and impact of co-operative businesses has been invisible in curriculum areas such as business studies. There has been little recognition of the dynamism of the contemporary co-operative sector, the global application of the model, and how successful co-operative businesses can contribute to social inclusion.
Whilst some co-operative societies have developed curriculum materials for schools, the movement lacked a strategic initiative that could engage a range of schools. This project is aimed at secondary schools specialising in Business and Enterprise, supporting their plans to raise achievement and also raising awareness of co-operative businesses.
In late 2003, the Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest co-operative business, agreed to sponsor a number of secondary schools seeking to become specialist schools specialising in business and enterprise. Initially the Group’s six regions in England selected a school to support, together with an additional school in London. Later the Group extended its support, adding a special school in the North East and a school near its head office in Manchester.
Co-operative Action, a grant distributing charity, supported the initiative by funding this project. The project, led by the Co-operative College, is working with the Co-operative Group sponsored schools to develop new approaches to the curriculum and new learning materials, using the co-operative movement as a learning resource. The key objective of the project is to facilitate networking amongst the schools and the sharing and dissemination of the outputs – making a real contribution to developing a distinct co-operative enterprise orientated curriculum.
Why business and enterprise?
Business and Enterprise is one of the specialisms for schools which was introduced in September 2002. The DTI Social Enterprise Strategy recognises the importance of raising awareness of the co-operative and mutual sector amongst schools and young people.
The co-operative movement has also recognised that it needs to inspire young people through its values, actions, diversity and global application to join, get involved and help build the future of their businesses. The business and enterprise option provides a unique opportunity to do this.
The basis of this project is for a strategic intervention into education by working with the sponsored schools to introduce co-operatives, co-operative enterprise and co-operative learning in schools.