April and the start of the summer term

It’s the summer term. With school community well-being in the front of our minds, we wish all our members a successful term, focused on the right things for their young people and communities. The Department for Education’s recent attention to behaviour hubs and discipline seems out of step with the national mood. We know many of our members are working to make sure all pupils and staff feel a sense of belonging and care back in school, and that compassion helps shape the learning young people experience, with due attention given to addressing inequalities and disadvantage.

At Coop Schools HQ, we look forward to signing you back up to the Cooperative School’s Network professional support, services and voice offer between now and May. Subscription invoices will be with you in the next couple of weeks, and please make sure your members are all aware of the benefits national membership offers them, and the cooperative dividends CSNET can bring to your schools and Trusts. We are always available to answer questions, and make sure our offer meets the needs of your communities.

Thank you for being part of the cooperative education movement; we are a stronger voice together.

Lee Phillips
National Director

Regional Shout Outs

North: I was delighted to become a Trustee of the newly formed Axia Learning Alliance in Lancashire, a Cooperative Foundation Trust of five primary schools. The Trust had its inaugural meeting yesterday (19th April), and is excited to be joining a larger family of cooperative Trusts through CSNET and the Schools Cooperative Society.  Axia is already clearly focused on making sure the Cooperative Trust is a motor for building fairness for young people: its initial work addresses pooling expertise on special educational needs, effective deployment of pupil premium resources, a focus on speech and language in early years, and making use of Forest Schools and partner provision to build the confidence and capacity of its young people. I left inspired, and you’ll be hearing more about Axia in another newsletter later this year. 

Central: we have new members in Birmingham after welcoming theBirmingham Special Schools Cooperative Trust to our family of schools. BSSCT formed in 2018 with six special schools in the west Midlands, ably supported by excellent partnerships. We are very keen to build collaborative communities across our special schools in each of our regions, from Devon to Kent, from Birmingham to Norfolk. Please be in touch if you’d like to be part of that network.

WestDartmoor Multi-Academy Trust, a Trust of fifteen schools in Devon, appointed a new CEO, Dan Morrow, in January of this year. The Trust is now committed to living up to its cooperative articles, and is re-energising its focus on values and principles in a series of conference days throughout May. The Conference is called ‘Reclaiming our Cooperative Identity’, and will focus on Cooperative Governance and Leadership, Fellowship, Pupil Experiences, and Community Cooperation. We will let you know more about Dartmoor MAT as their work progresses, and are delighted that a number of CSNET member schools and Trusts will be sharing their own cooperative experiences with the teams at Dartmoor for mutual benefit.

London and the South East: Regional Ambassador Alan Norley is convening the first meeting of the LASER Advisory Board on 30th April. The purpose of the Regional Advisory Board is to enable us to work more closely and effectively with member schools, feeding their intelligence into our national work, and making sure we give them the right support for their specific priorities. If you’re a member, keen to take part and are not sure if you heard from us, drop us a line and we will sort it out!

On this matter, we are working hard to rebuild the Regional Advisory Boards across all four regions of the Cooperative Schools Network. Regional Advisory Boards operate as steering and strategy teams for the work of Coop Schools in all four of its regions: shaping our work with schools and Trusts, building engagement and regional voice, and connecting each specific region to the National Advisory Board, the ‘engine’ of Coop Schools. London and the South East is the first to launch at the end of this month. We would particularly love to hear from members in the North, Central Region, and the West who would like to join us in shaping the regional direction for Coop Schools. We are keen to make sure our Boards are democratically representative and enable all our members to feel valued and to thrive. We welcome your participation.

Values Matter
At Coop Schools, we are proud to place our values at the centre of all we do. To that end, we will regularly highlight other organisations or actions that will interest our members, framed through the lens of our shared Cooperative Values, and what young people care about. 

Solidarity: ReKindle Manchester
In recent weeks, we’ve been in conversation with ReKindle Manchester, a proposed supplementary school for young people aged 13-16 in South Manchester. Built from the desire to reduce widening socio-economic gaps in Manchester, ReKindle plans to offer a curriculum and an approach that offers care, support, connection, hope, inspiration and aspiration, that pushes poor young people to know they can be more, but first establishes the solid foundations to catch them when they fall.ReKindle believes that this curriculum is best delivered in small, local educational centres, where communities support those at risk of negative outcomes with proven methods of educational support, designed to stimulate struggling learners and motivate parents, communities and local stakeholders to more efficiently support their young people. ReKindle’s key aim is to help their community of young people fall back in love with education.

ReKindle’s board is all aged between 18-24, majority black and minority ethnic, and most live within two miles of the proposed school. Connect to their Twitter feed here.

Equity: the Black Curriculum
At Coop Schools, we know we have more work to do to become fully inclusive, and address structural inequality in our society. We are putting in the work wherever we can.

Through March and April we’ve had some great discussions with the team at The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise that aims to enrich identity, achievement levels and social cohesion for young people, pursuing these aims through enhancing the impact of racial literacy provision, anti-racist practice and Black British History teaching within schools and local authorities across the UK. Their message is a positive one about the power of young people to bring about change.

They offer CPD training on racial literacy pedagogy and practice, curriculum consultation and audits, student workshops, and a National Ambassador Scheme.

The National Ambassador Scheme builds young peoples’ capacities to advocate and educate within their school community, empowering them and their communities. It strikes us as an effective support for building pupil member forum involvement in Cooperative Trusts.
For more information on the Black Curriculum’s work, contact them here.

Social Responsibility: Institute of Education Research into Extremism and Safety in Schools
The Centre for Teachers & Teaching Research at the Insititute of Education is conducting research funded by SINCE 9/11 on ‘Keeping Children Safe in Schools’, the results of which will be available in a report that will be published ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this September. The research will improve understanding of how schools support children and young people in resisting extremist views. It will also be used to inform SINCE 9/11’s work in supporting teachers in the classroom by creating the resources they want and need to tackle radicalisation and extremism.

The Centre would like to offer our members the opportunity to share their experiences, to improve understanding of how schools in England are engaging with curriculum expectations related to addressing extremism of all kinds.

The team have a live survey which is open to all teachers in England both in Primary and Secondary schools: https://redcap.idhs.ucl.ac.uk/surveys/?s=K3YKDPEY3C

It should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete.

The research team is very sensitive to the potentially harmful stereotypes and simplistic assumptions that some aspects of the UK’s Prevent duty may have enabled, and want to make sure all voices and communities are effectively represented in their research. To that end, the Centre would welcome schools who are available to participate in survey work and interviews. If you could make time to take part, please contact Dr Becky Taylor here

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