Co-operatives throughout the world share a set of values that give them their distinctive character and underpin the work they do. But sometimes, the importance of these values can get lost in the day-to-day work involved in running a co-operative. What does self-help look like for front of house staff in a housing co-operative? How can a teacher in a co-operative academy embody democracy? How can someone working in member services for a credit union demonstrate equity?

What do the co-operative values look like in action?

This is the big question that Keys Co-operative Academy Trust wanted help to answer – which is why they approached the Co-operative College to help them devise and deliver comprehensive and effective training for all their staff.

The planning process

Collaborating with senior staff from the Trust, the College’s learning team worked to understand what type of training was required, and how this could be facilitated to provide best value while ensuring maximum benefit for all the Trust’s stakeholders (the organisation, staff, students, and parents). The Trust was keen to explore how their organisation’s co-operative values, and the personal values of staff can be applied to daily working practices to help meet the organisation’s priorities.

The training

After further collaboration with the Trust, the College developed a full-day, in-person training session. This was delivered in September 2023 when staff from the College visited Colchester to facilitate a training workshop with 186 staff from all three Keys Co-operative Academy Trust schools. In attendance were staff from all departments including teachers, leadership and administration staff, and teaching assistants.

It was great to have time to focus on the values that underpin the work we do

Keys Co-operative Academy Trust participant feedback

As with all the College’s training, engagement and interaction were key. Utilising group work, networking, collaboration, and interactive technology to encourage participation, learners were actively involved in their own and each other’s training. All 186 participants were integral to how the session developed throughout the day.

There was a real buzz in the room. Participants appreciated that the day was interactive, and this really showed during the group work. It was clear that the staff are dedicated to their roles and the practice of not only co-operative values, but their personal ones too.

Stacey Salt - Co-operative College Adult Education Tutor

All aspects of the workshop connected back to the Trust’s key priorities, which include helping young people to succeed through learning and personal development, and stakeholder engagement.

Through the application of our distinct co-operative learning approach, the College learning team of Stacey Salt, Ali Longden and Jenny Laycock were able to ensure that the session was interactive, energetic, and inclusive.

Throughout the day, there were opportunities to network, meet new people, and dig deep into personal and organisational values. Staff were challenged to find ways of applying these values to the priority areas of the Trust and create actions to develop and enhance the practical application of the co-operative values and principles.

I was delighted to see how energised the staff were by the training and I feel that this work will help inform the professional conversations between staff.

Keys Co-operative Academy Trust participant feedback

The training day was the first-time staff from all three schools had come together, but by the end of the day people who had arrived as strangers had worked together, bonded over shared values, and left with a sense of belonging.

If you’d like to find out more about the College’s extensive range of training options to help your organisation develop and thrive, contact our learning team.

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About Keys Co-operative Academy Trust

The Trust is made up of three alternative provision schools: Mid Essex Co-operative Academy, North East Essex Co-operative Academy, and Endeavor Co-operative Academy (a moderate learning difficulties special school). In total, the schools provide education to around 420 young people aged between five and 19 years.