An educational cooperative might be an autonomous association of schools, united voluntarily to meet their common educational, economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly run and democratically controlled partnerships. A cooperative may also be defined as an enterprise owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or by the people who work there. The Cooperative Society supports schools wanting to work to these principles and for those who want to go a stage further and develop a Trust.
The beauty of the Cooperative Society approach is the implicit message that this is not about ‘take overs’ and that everyone has a chance to contribute and the opportunity to benefit from the collaboration. Such a message offers the best basis and the best chance of success for cluster development. I cannot think of a single aspect of a school’s processes that cannot benefit from sharing the task. Recruitment, IT, Cover Supervisors, CPD, ITT, Leaders, Bursars, AST, Special Needs, Community Liaison, Commissioning – the list is endless. The only contrary forces are those that stem from hostile competition which suggests that a secondary working with local primary schools is an obvious model. Where the landscape is too crowded (e.g.in cities), secondary schools or primary schools might link up together and where this seems unlikley, schools could look further afield for partners. The best partners are those who want to work with you, whoever and whereever they are.