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.

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!

Calling all enterprising young people…

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Live UnLtd Scotland are offering grants of £5-6k to young people involved in social projects in their community. The deadline is 10 May 2013 so get applying.

Live UnLtd information 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.

The International Co-operative Youth Statement

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On November 20, 2012, young cooperators from all over the world came to the United Nations Headquarters in New York to officially present the International Cooperative Youth Statement 2012, as part of the closing ceremony of the International Year of Cooperatives, declared by the UN. This pivotal year gave young people an opportunity to be heard and to promote the cooperative model.

The Statement was drawn up in an inclusive and participatory manner, which included an online survey, a discussion forum on Facebook and at the United Nations, as well as the finalization of the Statement by a group of young people committed to cooperative development. Through this process, young people from all over the world shared their experiences regarding youth empowerment and their involvement in cooperatives.


Firstly, this is a very encouraging development which has the potential to kickstart a programme of youth engagement that utilises the co-operative model of enterprise. The Statement outlines young people’s commitment to the economic, social and environmental benefits generated by co-operatives, in particular their ability to provide decent, satisfying jobs. It makes for a succinct, inspiring read and I would encourage those with a broad interest in youth development and co-operatives to read it. There are some particular passages which I will highlight here as they are relevant to our work in Scotland.

Of the recommendations made in the Statement, three stand out:

  • a benchmark of youth engagement in co-operatives should be developed, ranking this objective alongside other economic and social goals;
  • a call to embed teaching about the co-operative model of enterprise in education, from primary to tertiary; and
  • specific recognition as part of the ICA’s Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.

The Statement is also wise to highlight some of the challenges to succesful youth development through the co-operative model, including:

  • the lack of awareness among young people, their teachers/lecturers, parents etc;
  • the risk that the co-operative model is perceived as old-fashioned;
  • a need for a stronger evidence base on the impact of co-operatives on youth development; and
  • the lack of engagement local co-operatives have with young people.

There are certainly some points in this Statement that deserve CETS’ and others attention. Thoughts?


What co-ops mean to kids

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CETS and the Clydebank Co-op have been working in partnership with Kilbowie Primary to look at the Co-operative Values and Principles and put them into child friendly language. The resulting pop-ups and poster will be displayed in Kilbowie Primary and Clydebank Co-op, to promote understanding of the benefits of the co-operative business model and encourage people to join their local co-op.

Kilbowie Co-op Poster

Poster created by Kilbowie Primary pupils on what co-ops mean to them

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

“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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