Co-operative Education

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Since the 1980s a distinct feature of education reform in the UK has been to re-organise schools and the educational system around competitive logics, such as the market for pupil places in school choice.

An odd feature of the liberalisation of the school system in recent years has been the emergence of the Co-operative School Movement with over 800 schools opting to operate according to Co-operative values (i.e., self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity) and principles (e.g., Democratic Member Control, Co-operation among Co-operatives, and Concern for Community).

The belief of those supporting the Co-operative school movement is that teaching and learning is best conducted in a co-operative and inclusive manner, that schools should not compete for resources because such competition tends to exclude the marginalized and vulnerable. There is still much to do to determine how Co-operative education is different from competitive forms of education, whether and where this form of education can exist in a system still dominated by the pressures of performance (i.e., exams) and accountability (i.e., Ofsted inspections), and what opportunities there are to share practice and resource across a school movement of 800 schools.