Communicating the Co-op Values

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Morag

A group of Eastbank Primary pupils, in Glasgow, have agreed to help spread the co-operative message about how important values are in who you are and what you do!

CETS have employed them after hearing all about how giving “values” a personality and purpose have helped give “power to the pupil” in monitoring and modifying their own behavior.  When asked why they thought this programme had worked, the first answer was, “because it was fun”! The “fun” is in pupils exploring for themselves what theses values mean and where they see them in not just their everyday lives, but also in art drama, RME and storytelling, then sharing this new-found knowledge with others.

Click here to see what the character values look like – http://s.coop/1teku. I particularly like Rebecca Responsibility”

Eastbank pupils have kindly agreed to look at the co-op values ( link to V and P page)  in the same way and come up with a toolkit for schools, to help them understand where to look for and find the co-op values anywhere from the Gorbals to Ghana! The toolkit will  possibly also help pupils understand what it means to be a co-operative and also how to use these values in setting up their own co-op.

We are at the start of a very exciting project, so keep checking to see how it is doing!

Scottish School of Co-operation

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Cardinal Newman High in Bellshill became our latest Scottish School of Co-operation.  The school were presented with their award by the Provost of North Lanarkshire, Jimmy Robertson, at an event in the school last week.  The Provost noted the area’s co-op connections, both current and historical.  The new co-op food distribution centre is a 5 minute drive from the school and Scotmid have had a presence since the 19th century through the old Dalziell Co-op.

Cardinal Newman are certainly not going for half measures as regards their SSC status.  They are working with Scotwest to create a credit union and organising at least another 2 young co-op enterprises.

There were 10 co-operative businesses (Co-operative Group Food, Pharmacy, Funeralcare and Membership, Scotmid, Green City, Media Co-op, Scotwest, West Whitlawburn Housing Co-op and Clansman Dynamics) supporting a speed networking event.  In particular, the 40 pupils starting out on their SQA Awards in Co-operative Studies were able to extract valuable information on how co-op businesses function and what makes them different from other types of enterprise.  They also learned the role played in the creation of the original James Bond character – Sean Connery having spent his initial years in employment with Scotmid.

We are hopeful that this event might prove to be the catalyst for developing SSC across North Lanarkshire.  The council has made a significant investment in developing co-operative teaching, so it would seem logical to want to teach about co-ops as part of that exercise.  The significant employer engagement and the use of co-ops as the context for cross curricular learning and teaching was also noted by senior educators.

Big Co-op Event: New Lanark 14 June 2012

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As part of the celebration of UN International Year of Co-operatives we are hosting an event at New Lanark on Thursday 14th June 2012 to highlight opportunities to develop the Curriculum for Excellence through Co-operative Studies.

  • We now have available, SQA Customised Awards in Co-operative Studies  –   http://s.coop/jk0n
  • We have supported over 120 pupils in 8 schools to the attainment of ASDAN Awards in Co-operative Studies
  • We have launched our online “Co-operative Farm to Food Cycle”   –  http://www.cets.coop/resources/primary.html

We believe that the co-operative values and principles and co-operative business model are at the very core of everything CfE aspires to be.  We have a limited number of free places still available.  Read the attached programme and send your details to info@cets.coop for a day of CPD which could prove priceless.

Programme details

www.2012.coop/get-involved/competitions

Co-operative capitalism; Cultural Nationalism and Scraggie Aggie’s Co-op Baggie!

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I decided to take the advice of my peers and get out a bit more.  In the past few weeks I have been to a variety of events, some co-op and some general public policy.  However, it was in my more natural repose, on the couch with the remote control and a glass, that the inspiration for this blog arrived.  I was surfing and came upon “Val and Roger just Got In”.  It transpired that Roger had just got in from winning his job back at an Industrial Tribunal and Val suggested a holiday to recuperate but “….. not to the Scottish Islands.  I want to go somewhere where they have restaurants and not just a co-op”.  I regarded this as a nice little piece of observational humour and a pat on the back for the Community Retailing Network CRN in supporting isolated communities.   (I have subsequently been informed that Dawn French (Val) is a supporter of things co-operative and the mention of an off screen character called Pauline Green did make me wonder).   Many of the community co-op members of CRN have been operating for over 30 years and one of them featured in the BBC Series “An Island Parish” (Eriskay, if memory serves) along with local character Scraggie Aggie who has featured with her green Co-op Food “Bag for Life” scavenging for crustaceans at low tide and delivering a hand knitted pullover to the parish priest.  I have previously blogged about coops being referenced in contemporary literature and film but it is heartening to see it continue in the UN International Year of the Co-operative.  There is even a film being made about the Rochdale Pioneers (talk about history repeating itself, not only did Fenwick beat them to title of first ever co-op but also produced their own short drama piece on DVD last year!).  It appears that co-ops are becoming part of the message.

So if we are making some headway in raising awareness of co-operation amongst the general populace can we expect to make the leap to “Co-operative Capitalism”   I can see the general concept gaining credence as a response to “Big Society” (or “co-operation for slow learners” as suggested by Dave Scott) but it implies that we are part of the existing system rather than an alternative, an acceptable face of how to compete ethically within markets.  In terms of the co-operative business model that is fine but, in my limited reading on the subject so far, it doesn’t really get to grips with co-operation as a social movement, with co-operation as a value system or a different way of organising society.  As a trained economist my main concern would be that it doesn’t really tackle the neo-classical model of rational economic man.  There is a growing school of behavioural economics and others who are making the point that co-operation is just as, if not more, natural than competition.  I am delighted to confirm that we have Dr Matt Bell – the Meerkat Man – speaking on this very topic at two IYOC events this year (Aberdeen in may and New Lanark in June).

Finally, I was at a discussion on the need for a constitution for Scotland (in the event that there was a vote for independence?).  I made the point that the Co-operative movement has more constitutions, more discussions on constitutions and more experience in this field than anybody else.  I also argued that when you need to fall back on written constitutions it generally means the culture has broken down.  At their most basic co-operatives only work when there is mutual self interest, a common objective which is not achievable individually but is collectively – the Co-operative Donkeys.  So I have to confess the design of a constitution for an independent Scotland when there is no visible support for the latter does seem an inefficient use of our scarce time.  However, it did set me thinking that independence/devo max wouldn’t really change much in terms of business models in the Global economy.  MacDonalds, Vodafone, Shell, HSBC et al would still sell their services in an independent Scotland.  Most of the profit would still be exported.  So the UK wide co-operatives, mutuals and employee owned businesses would still continue with some minor restructuring in recognition of different tax regimes.  Who knows, it might even end up be beneficial for the Co-op Group to re-locate from Manchester to Fenwick for favourable tax treatment!

Fairly hypothetical, especially if one debates the independence issue solely from an economics perspective.  If one considers the concept of cultural nationalism however the party loyalties and economics tend to get lost and that does take us into the unknown.  The economists might deride this as emotional and irrational.  Maybe but that takes us back to simply accepting that we only make decisions based on perceived economic  outcomes.  I suspect there is a huge middle ground as yet undecided on independence or devo max or whether to make that decision on social, cultural or economic grounds or some combination thereof

The First Minister is known as a betting man but at this stage I would be as likely to correctly guess the contents of Scraggie Aggie’s Co-op Baggie in any future series of “An Island Parish” as the outcome of a referendum.  And I don’t see the First Minister putting his shirt on a runner he isn’t convinced will win.

Young Co-operatives – Fairlogie Café

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Morag

Do you know how to set up and run a successful Fairtrade Café? If not, but you would like to, get in touch with the P6 class at Carlogie Primary in Carnoustie and they will be delighted to help you!  Over the last few months they have been planning the opening of their monthly fairtrade café.  The first very successful morning was held on the 23rd November, in the local church hall.

I arrived to be greeted and escorted around by a group of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable young people who delivered me into the capable hands of tea and coffee makers, who then engaged me in conversation around the merits of their fairtrade products. They were unfazed by doing mental calculation to give me my change after I had been persuaded to buy other attractive fairtrade products from another stall!

Their easy, relaxed and informed manner created a warm happy atmosphere for all their customers – I counted at least 60 –who arrived from all over their community to support them. Asking the minister to announce their enterprise from his pulpit on the preceding Sunday was obviously also a very good marketing ploy!

At the co-op, we are always trying to explain clearly what our values and principles are – looking at the student’s interpretation of them, perhaps we can learn how to apply them more easily through children’s eyes.

Fairlogie Cafe values

Fairlogie Cafe principles

I also have to mention, for teachers benefit, that to my mind this is a really good example of how to “do” Curriculum for Excellence. There was evidence of true interdisciplinary learning – listening and talking, writing, numeracy, health and well-being for starters, as well as showing how to put the four capacities into action. If you want to see this all happening for yourself – go along to their next Fairtade Café event at Panbride Church Hall, Newton Church, Arbroath Road, Carnoustie, 10am-11.30 on Wednesday 14th December. Remember to take plenty of cash as their excellent sales team will persuade you to buy lots of their excellent products specially selected for Christmas.

There – they have now managed to get me to do some marketing for them as well!

Updated Summer Update

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Author: Hugh

Traditionally it is a quiet time for us here at CETS but that hasn’t stopped me taking the easy option of combining my turn to blog with a newsletter for general consumption. 

CETS NEWS – JULY 2011

Young Co-operative Enterprise

 There are two major strands of our efforts in this field which will take major strides forward when the Scottish schools return in August.

ASDAN Awards through Co-operative Studies 

Supported by the Co-operative Group Scottish Values and Principles Committee, we will be working with several secondary schools (Loudoun Academy, Alva Academy, Jedburgh Grammar, Broxburn Academy, Armadale Academy, Whitburn Academy and All Saints Secondary) to ensure that nearly 200 Scottish pupils will achieve ASDAN Enterprise and/or COPE accreditation through Co-operative Studies.  This will be a major advance in our primary objective of imbedding co-operative values and principles into the Scottish education system.

Young Co-operatives

We have often highlighted the excellent work done by longstanding Young Co-ops at Hillpark and Stonelaw and we are hoping to see a new wave as we engage with Govan High, Hillhead Secondary and Whitehills Primary (Forfar) to develop their co-operative business models.

We also had a highly successful 2 day Co-operative Enterprise Awareness Session at St Paul’s Dundee where 40 pupils investigated the potential for creating Young Co-ops.  This event was run in conjunction with Dynamix, the Bristol based worker co-op.

SQA Qualifications

As stated above, our main objective is to imbed co-operative values and principles and the co-operative model of enterprise into the Scottish education system.  The ongoing implementation of Curriculum for Excellence is starting to offer opportunities in this field.  We instigated discussions with the SQA over a year ago and it now seems that our message is getting through, that co-operatives as a context for learning are an effective way to achieve the outcomes laid down with Curriculum for Excellence. 

The SQA have themselves proposed the creation of an award in Fair Trade/Ethical trading which will sit nicely alongside our proposed award in Co-operative Studies, again supported by CG Scottish Membership V & P.  We are also awaiting a response from the Education Minister on his proposal for a new award in Scottish Studies and our suggestion that Co-operative Studies should be an integral part of any such award.

Hopscotch Theatre

Hopscotch has been involved in some excellent pieces of drama aimed at raising awareness amongst young people about the democratic system and trade justice.  We are currently working with them to take to our ASDAN schools (as above) a drama workshop which will introduce them to the concept of democratically owned and controlled businesses.

Summer Events

Working with CG Membership we have agreed to sponsor (through the Cammanachd Association) the supply of three “First Shinty” kits for use in primary and secondary schools throughout the City of Aberdeen.  The kits will be handed over at half time in the Aberdein Considine Sutherland Cup Final at Aberdeen University’s King’s Fields on Saturday 30th July 2011.

Again, we will be hosting a short workshop on co-ops at the Belladrum Festival, alongside the “Verb Garden” when the Co-operative Group Scotland & NI Board will be joining the festivities.

Scotmid are hosting an Enterprising Practitioners event in August at Hillwood House.  This group of schools enterprise development officers came together under Determined to Succeed but not have to look at those co-operative virtues of self help and self sufficiency if they are to continue functioning.  The Scotmid session will be used to explore a co-operative model as well as further progressing their knowledge and understanding of co-operative enterprise.

They will also be able to hear how co-operative business engagement is enabling pupils at Craigmount High to work towards Intermediate Retailing Awards with support from Stevenson College, Scotmid and CETS.

Learning and Teaching Resources   

In our 2009/11 funding application to CG Social Goals, we forecast we would get over 1500 of our various resource packs into 750 schools.  With over 6 months still to run, we have surpassed those targets by at least 10%.

We are now working on a new “Co-operative Food Chain” resource with financial and technical support from SAOS.  There are many existing resources out there and it has been noted that the majority of co-operative activity in the UK still centres on food in some shape or form.

 This will be an online option which highlights the co-operative option at every stage of the cycle – food production, food retail and distribution and through to food waste and re-cycling/renewable energy.  This resource will be launched early in the next school year.

Year of the Co-operative 2012

 The aforementioned support from CG Scottish Values & Principles is intended to culminate with the launch of the new SQA Awards and the graduation of the 200 ASDAN Young Co-operators.  It will obviously be our intention to showcase these at a major event in 2012.  Once we are clear of the overall Scottish programme of events we will announce more detail.  It would be our intention to aim for June 2012.

Some of you might have noticed that we are engaging with schools (Govan and Loudoun, including Fenwick Primary) which can lay claim to pre-Rochdale co-ops within their catchment areas.  We have also approached schools in Brechin (1832) and Lennoxtown (1812) to see if we can develop a co-operative co-op history project, highlighting the Scottish contribution to the global phenomenon that is the International Co-operative Economy being celebrated by the UN. (A point we made in our communication to the Scottish Education Minister).  Watch this space!

Higher Education

 We are now at the halfway point in our Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Aberdeen and the first learning and teaching resources should be available for the new university academic year.  This work has resulted in a grouping of co-operative academics working together and after an initial CETS presentation to the UK Society for Co-operative Studies Annual Conference 2010, there was a fringe meeting at Congress to progress the idea of a Co-operative University and Business School.

The Mondragon co-ops in the Basque Country already have their own university and CETS, with support from CDS, will be sending 3 students from the Scottish Agricultural College over on a study tour in early October.  The students won the CETS/CDS essay competition with a business plan for a farm forestry co-op.

Summer Update

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Author: Diarmuid

Firstly, a happy summer (if you can call it that with all the rain – not enjoying my second Scottish summer weather wise!) to everyone. Traditionally it is a quiet time for us here at CETS as most of our work involves teachers and students who enjoy the fruits of a number of weeks off around this time. We do like to keep busy however, so I will provide a quick update regarding the status of one of our projects.

Democratic Enterprise
Thanks to support from Co-operative Development Scotland and the Scottish Government, CETS has been working in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen on an exciting project developing educational resources for higher education. Democratic Enterprise will be released in late September and will cover co-operative and employee-ownership topics in-depth, including Ownership, Governance, Participation, as well as historical and legal perspectives. The textbook will be accompanied by an online learning environment, containing additional case studies and resources, as well as advice for academics on how to incorporate the material into a course. Further details on the resource and the project as a whole can be found at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/cets.

Despite the majority of our work being aimed at school level, we feel that this resource will be an important component in the education of our young people. It may be a dream but we hope that someday a child will learn about co-operatives and other forms of democratic enterprises from the moment they enter Scottish education to the day they leave. Hopefully Co-operatives Fortnight and the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives will go some way to realising this aim. In the meantime we’ll keep ploughing on and banging at the door so to speak.

By the way, we are beginning work on a new school level resource. Early stages at the moment but it will explore some aspects of the food cycle. More news to follow!

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