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.

The Co-operative Option in Education Conference

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The Co-operative Option in Education: Can we still measure what we value once the lunatics have taken over the asylum?

“Change in Scottish education has tended to focus on reforming the curriculum and assessment systems but has tended to ignore school governance…………there has been no change in overall governance arrangements for almost 100 years.”

Our society has changed drastically over the past century, yet some would argue, our schools are still organised the way factories were set up in Victorian times.  If we need to modernise what are the options and what does the co-operative model have to offer Co-operative academies have been supported in England to tackle inner city under performance.  Co-operative trust schools (in existence before the concept of “Free Schools”) have offered a democratic alternative to the marketization process in England.

The Co-operative Education Trust Scotland was established to work with the existing structures rather than create new ones and there has been no demand in Scotland for opting out. The “Owenstown” co-operative town proposal offers a blank canvas in terms of co-operative innovation in education

Those who believe in co-operative values and principles and that the co-operative model of enterprise is a viable alternative will present several options.

Register for the event at:

Speakers include:

Keir Bloomer – The Commission on School Reform

–           will address the governance issues highlighted in their Final Report.


Cllr Stephen Curran – Glasgow  City Council    

–          will explain the move towards becoming a Co-operative Council and how education will underpin that development and how that can be linked to The Scottish School of Co-operation offering from CETS.


Jim Arnold – Owenstown    

–          will share his vision for education within the new Lanarkshire co-operative town


Dave Boston – The Schools Co-operative Society     

–          will explain how co-operative trust schools have grown in England


Celebrating Co-operation – Loudoun Academy’s Award Ceremony

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On Monday the 22 April, Loudoun Academy were presented with their plaque at an awards ceremony attended by parents, students, partners, The Director of Education Services as well as the Provost, to mark them becoming Scotland’s first School of Co-operation.

© This is a copyrighted image and must not be used in anyway without the express permission of Mike Scott Contact Phone- 07968 258392 e-mail-

Morag looking lovely as always.

It was a very co-operative event as the school was also giving awards to over 60 students who had volunteered up to 300 hours each in their local community!

LACE – the Young Co-operative in the school, also gave an excellent presentation about their business. They explained what it meant to them to be a young co-operative and how the values and principles shaped their business, as well as what they were doing to help others with their profits.

All the students’ presentation were very articulate and entertaining and an excellent time was had by all.  Many thanks and congratulations to everyone who made this event such a success!

UK Co-operative Education Conference 2013

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Featuring presentations of research and innovative practice spanning twenty-three countries and five continents, participants will have opportunities to learn from a wide range of researchers, practitioners, and educators. All presenters are engaged in challenging and innovating pedagogy, policy, and practice through co-operative learning and co-operation.

The Transformative Power of Co-operation in Education is organised by the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education (IASCE) with support from the Faculty of Education at the University of Hull, England and the International Association for Intercultural Education (IAIE). For over 30 years, the IASCE has led the way in highlighting and disseminating research and practice in co-operative learning and co-operation in education. The 2013 conference will be located at the University of Hull Scarborough Campus, situated beside the sea and overlooking the attractive town of Scarborough, with easy access to spectacular countryside and historic cities.

Participants will have the opportunity to become immersed in a conference design that is both innovative and interactive. Through dynamic engagement, delegates will be able to experience first-hand the power of co-operation to support dialogue, reflection and spirited exchange, as well as develop new networks and friendships.

More details can be found in the conference flyer – Conference Flyer final March 2013

What young people think about co-ops (part 2)

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We got some good feedback from our session with young co-operators at the beginning of the month; they braved the Scottish Spring to battle their way to New Lanark to discuss ways of promoting co-operatives and co-operative teaching in schools. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Focus on primary schools to get the message across – creates a new generation of co-operators.
  • Promote co-op success stories.
  • Establish a mentoring program – use existing student co-ops to help new co-ops.
  • Incorporate it into the careers service at schools.
  • Decide on key messages: co-operatives promote personal development, develop new, practical skills, and offer something new/interesting.
  • Create opportunities to meet with other student co-ops (a Young Co-op Network).
  • Need to get teachers to recognise that the co-operative option makes sense in a lot of areas in a school – builds upon existing ‘co-operative’ activities.

Plenty to think about for us as educators and co-operators.

Creating Co-operative Capital: Supporting the next generation of co-operators

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On the 11th of March, CETS is hosting an event which will bring together some of the many young people engaged in co-operative activity in Scottish education to discuss the idea of a ‘Co-operative Youth Network’. Fittingly, this event will be held in New Lanark where Robert Owen put into practice his pioneering ideas for a more co-operative society. Pupils from some of the schools in Scotland who are embracing co-operative teaching and learning (including some who are completing SQA qualifications in Co-operative Studies), as well as co-operative ways of working, will join together to participate in a series of participative and interesting activities. Attendees will also have an opportunity to undertake a guided tour of New Lanark.

The proceedings from this event will be communicated through this blog in the weeks following the event. We’re really looking forward to hearing what co-operation means to young people and it can be extended to others throughout Scotland.

Making 2013 a great year for Co-op Education

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‘What could be important in this co-operative initiative is not what is accomplished but what it is intended to do.’
– José María Arizmendiarrieta

One of the key messages of the UN 2012 Year of Co-operatives was to see the celebration not as an ending but as a beginning. We have taken that to heart at CETS and have a variety of activities, resources and projects planned for 2013 that will hopefully improve co-operative education in Scotland and the UK.

  • The first cohort of students will be completing the inaugural SQA Awards in Co-operative Studies in 2013. Offered at levels 4, 5 and 6, the qualification provides secondary students with a detailed understanding of the core historical, social and organisational topics relating to co-operatives. We are working on promoting these awards to other Scottish secondary schools in the year ahead.
  • 2012 saw the development of our interactive online resource on the Commonwealth Games. The Co-operative Games: Succeeding together is aimed at upper primary/early secondary level pupils and covers a variety of topics within the Curriculum for Excellence. We will continue to promote? this resource in the run-up to the 2014 Games.
  • We are always seeking to develop relevant, interesting learning and teaching resources on co-operatives and 2013 will continue this trend. The end of the summer will see the launch of a resource on ‘making your school co-operative’. Loudoun Academy became the first “Scottish School of Co-operation -SSC”. We are now building on our work to create the first cluster of SSC schools in Edinburgh and the first Primary SSC in Angus. We also have plans for a second resource but we’re still at the idea generation stage; any ideas/suggestions are welcome at

2013 will also be also a big year for us in relation to our work at tertiary level:

  • In co-operation with Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS), we are organising a series of screenings of the US employee ownership film, We The Owners, across 3 or 4 Scottish Universities. Open to students, academics, local business people, and co-operators, the screenings will take place during late February, early March; contact if interested in attending.
  • March will see the completion of an innovative project, supported by Co-operatives UK, to establish a co-operative providing employment to students from a Scottish university. Student-owned and led, the new co-operative will be launched in late March and will be based on a successful model from Mondragón Corporation in the Basque Country.
  • Finally, work continues, thanks to the support of CDS, on disseminating the outputs of a recent Knowledge Transfer Partnership project between CETS and the University of Aberdeen. These outputs include an academic textbook, a collection of essays, an entrepreneurship guide for students/graduates, and a virtual learning environment. We are also delivering a series of lectures across Scottish universities, in particular with the University of the West of Scotland.

A Celebration of Co-operation – New Lanark 14/06/2012

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Carlogie Primary pupils discuss their fairtrade café

Carlogie Primary pupils discuss their fairtrade café

Over 100 kids, 8 workshops, 5 speakers, and an awards ceremony; the madness that was our annual event is now over. Set in the New Lanark World Heritage Centre, home to Robert Owen’s social initiatives, we were joined by over 100 educators, students, practitioners and co-operators to celebrate co-operative education in Scotland. It quickly became apparent that co-operative education takes many forms, including:

  • A pupil-run fairtrade co-operative serving up delicious treats to primary students;
  • A young co-operative that donates its profits to an impoverished school in South Africa;
  • A cohort of pupils successfully completing ASDAN awards in Co-operative Studies; and
  • A secondary-school in Ayrshire working towards becoming a ‘co-operative school’ (see Peter Flood’s presentation below).

We made some attempt to organise the chaos: pupils were assigned workshops depending on their age, and the adults in attendance were treated to a series of interesting, informative (and occasionally controversial!) talks. This ensured that there was ‘something for everyone’ at the event and kept the wee (and not so wee) ones engaged throughout the day.

Pupil workshops


Nick Morgan, Education Scotland – Developing Global Citizens

David Cameron – Co-operatives and Co-operation in Scottish Education

Alan Wilkins, CLADA – A Learning Philosophy

Peter Flood, Loudon Academy – A Scottish School of Co-operation

Stonelaw High Fairtraders – The South African Connection

Ashley Simpson, Reddish Vale Co-operative Graduate also spoke of his experience of attending the UK’s first co-operative trust school.

Our sincere thanks to all who attended and supported the event (especially the volunteers from Robert Owen House in Glasgow) and, after a well-deserved break, we’ll have an eye on next year soon enough.

(There are some photographs of the event that can be viewed on our Flickr account; if anybody who attended has some pictures that they wish to share then please email us at

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  –
  • 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”   –

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 for a day of CPD which could prove priceless.

Programme details

“Stirrin’ Stuff” and the Co-operative at Forth Primary!

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Taste buds were tingling for the P5-7’s at Forth Primary on Monday 23rd April!

The Co-operative Kitchen

See more photographs from the event on our Flickr page:

The local Co-operative had arranged for their cookery demonstration unit to be erected in the school and Fi Bird  of Stirrin’ Stuff (a former MasterChef finalist) to come and work with the pupils to explore and create and make some interesting healthy  food. The pupils had the opportunity to take part in cooking chicken, making cous cous and chopping a wide variety of vegetables to combine them into a tasty , but healthy dish, which everyone then got to taste.  Participants were encouraged to try foods they had previously not  eaten or thought they didn’t like and the overwhelming view was a “thumbs up” from the pupils.

Throughout the event, the P5-7 pupils were encouraged to think about healthy eating and lifestyles as well as how to make sure their cooking skills met with health and safety guidelines… this meant regular hand washing and the wearing of aprons and a chefs hat! Finger licking (of their own fingers!), however was encouraged, especially when they experimented with rhubarb smoothies, yoghurt and honey!

The Co-operative Education Trust Scotland were supporting the day of healthy eating and living, by showing the pupils their new online resource  “The Co-operative Farm to Food Cycle”.  This gave the P5-7’s  the opportunity to explore where their food comes from, how it is processed and what happens to any waste.  Looking at what we do with our waste from the food industry will be explored further by Jonathan Kneeshaw form Zero waste Scotland, when he visits the classes at Forth Primary next week.

The Co-operative are keen to encourage communities to  shop local, buy seasonal and reduce our waste  as well as our carbon footprint – the average family throws away nearly £500 worth of food a year!

After these sessions in Forth Primary, perhaps the next generation of young people can show us how to make healthier and less wasteful food choices.  Looking at these young people, – happier choices as well!

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