Cooperative Values and Principles

The Values and Principles embraced by today’s worldwide Cooperative Movement were first formulated by the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844. Expressed in the Statement of Cooperative Identity, and published by the International Cooperative Alliance, they underpin the beliefs and behaviours of all cooperative endeavour. What do these values and principles mean in the context of schools and Trusts?

The Values


In co-operatives, we believe by helping each other we help ourselves. Schools and Trusts help young people and their communities to be self-reliant, self-regulating, and resilient.


All members of a cooperative are responsible for its success. Members take ownership of their actions, and hold themselves and each other accountable to high standards.


Each member of a cooperative has rights, and their voice and capacity is valued to the same extent as any other person. In cooperative schools and Trusts we respect the richness each person brings to the community, and believe diversity makes us stronger.


We live in an unequal society, and cooperatives are equitable when they treat people fairly, according to their needs. Cooperative schools and Trusts take action to increase inclusion and be representative of the full diversity of their communities.


Every member of the school and Trust community has a voice in how the school and Trust are run, and democratic structures are in place to transform members’ voices into meaningful action.


Cooperative schools and Trusts are committed to their members, and members in turn work together to support one another and drive collective improvement.

Ethical Values

In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

The Principles

These are the guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organisations, and membership comes with inclusive participation, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual identity, disability, or economic circumstances.

  1. Democratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratically controlled by their members. Representatives (such as Foundation Trust Trustees) are elected among the membership and are accountable to them.

  1. Member Economic Participation

Members democratically control the capital in their Trust. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative.

  1. Autonomy and Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. Agreements with other organisations do not impinge on democratic control by the Cooperative’s members and maintenance of their co-operative autonomy.

  1. Education, Training and Information

Perhaps the most straightforward of the Principle for cooperative schools! Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives and staff, so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives and its ambitions.

  1. Cooperation among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures. Coop Schools and the Cooperative Schools Network are our national bodies for this cooperation.

  1. Concern for Community

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members. The link between the life chances of young people and the success of their communities is central to cooperative schools and Trusts.