College Trustee nominations 2023

Below are the names and statements of the three members nominated as Trustees for the 2023 AGM. As we received fewer nominations than there were vacancies, all nominees will be automatically elected at the AGM on 22 June, with no voting required.

Barbara Rainford – standing for the organisational members

I have always been interested in Co-operative College and the part it plays in the co-operative movement. I have attended two of the Co-operative College AGMs and several of the meetings in Manchester discussing the possibilities of a Co-operative University and how this would work.

As Chair of Co-op Press, I was able to help secure the continuation of separate funding when Co-op Group wanted all funding to be delivered through Co-ops UK. Thanks to the support of the National Members Council, Co-operative College, Co-op Press and the Heritage Trust still receive funding independently of Co-ops UK.

I have served as a school governor and helped Shrewsbury College set up University Centre Shrewsbury in conjunction with Chester University. I was a board member of Young Enterprise Shropshire for many years working with young people and organising events and sponsorship. I have been a director of Midcounties Co-operative for 10 years, I am also a director of Co-op Futures and BCRS Business Loans – and I am a Trustee for Zero Carbon Shropshire

The College needs a practical plan to tackle finances and there are several options we could explore – including the possibility of working with a university or other educational organisation.

The 'Our Malawi Partnership', set up a year ago, has real potential, and I am really keen to help contribute to this and the College’s other international projects.

I believe my practical skills and broad experience make me well placed to serve the College as a Trustee.

Simon Thomson – standing for the individual members

I am currently a Professor of Hybrid Learning at the University of Manchester where, as Director of Flexible Learning, I am supporting the University in reimagining a more blended and flexible approach to higher education. A key part of this work involves increasing access to a Manchester education through our commitment to social responsibility, something which sits right at the heart of the Co-operative College.

I have been involved in the work of the Co-operative College since January 2020 when I was initially appointed as a Visiting Fellow to help advise on higher education curriculum, but more recently as a co-opted trustee, bringing my expertise in blended and hybrid education to the discussions supporting the future ambitions of the College.

Therefore, I am seeking election as an individual member to demonstrate the continued commitment I have to supporting the College, as it seeks to bring to life its recently renewed strategy. This is an exciting time for the College and as I have already hopefully demonstrated in my role as co-opted trustee my experiences of teaching and leadership in further and higher education can help support the plans of the College in an often changing educational landscape.

The majority of post-16 education institutions are now focussing on developing rich, accessible, blended education experiences and it is important that the Co-operative College is able to do the same. With my experience in these areas I can continue to advise and shape the College's approach to this work alongside the other trustees.

Grant Wolstencroft – standing for the individual members

The College’s declared aim is 'to operate like a co-operative'.

The strategy says with 'co-operative principles and values enshrined in its core.'

The crucial question for us is 'How will the College do this for Individual Members?' strategically, and practically.

And especially how will the central co-operative principles of member ownership and member control be achieved?

The strategy touches on these issues though requires more explanation and development, and an action plan.

Individual members, in their communities, are central to the strategy's aims. How will they be involved in strategy development?

Related to this are the perceived or experienced barriers which militate against individual members participating in the College. How significant are these barriers? What can be done about them?

Similar questions apply to College beneficiaries, who overlap with the individual membership. Who are the intended beneficiaries? Are they being reached?

The difficulties of having both individual and organisational members, often to the detriment of individual members, require addressing.

Strategic issues are the independence and autonomy of the College, in particular from the corporate co-operative movement, and especially its academic independence – its teaching and research.

I have several decades' experience professional and voluntary in co-operation education business support and civil society voluntary and community activities.

I am an independent member with no obligations to any organisation.