Cllr Tudor Evans: New co-operative option for Plymouth schools
As one of the first cities in the UK to form a co-operative society, Plymouth has a proud history in the co-operative movement.
That proud history entered a new era in May when Labour took back control of the city council with a manifesto commitment to create a co-operative council.
Straight away we got to work exploring a range of potential areas that could adopt the co-operative way of working.
We believe schools are one key area that could benefit from this approach as an alternative to the much-publicised academies route.
Many schools have already become academies and are now entirely independent of the Council and this means those that matter most, including parents and local communities, don’t always have a big say over the way schools are run.
We have now provided an alternative co-operative model for Plymouth schools.
We believe this model will encourage collaboration between schools and partnership working to improve standards. Co-operative schools will allow pupils, teachers, parents, local people and employers to become members of the trust, forming a community-based mutual organisation.
The school trusts will sit under a city-wide trust, which will provide strategic direction to all those schools signed up in the city, offering some consistency and central guidance.
Our children deserve the best possible start in life and we want the entire community to be involved in making this happen.
We already have some excellent examples of co-operative education in the Plymouth. Lipson Community College is already operating a co-operative model of education and has been providing support to primary schools within the local area.
We want to build on their success and four schools have already consulting on moving to co-operative trust status from September.
A further seven primaries have said they are interested in finding out more about co-operative status.
We believe co-operative schools are the future of education in Plymouth – they are ethical and inclusive, embracing our ambition of becoming a co-operative council and our ambition to make Plymouth a truly democratic place to live.
Councillor Tudor Evans is Leader of Plymouth City Council and a Labour & Co-operative councillor.