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Cooperative school models

The Department for Education recognises two models for cooperative state schools: 

  • Cooperative Foundation Trust schools

  • Cooperative Multi-Academy Trust schools

If you are thinking about establishing or joining a cooperative education partnership, please contact Coop Schools' head office. We can provide detailed advice on cooperative education structures, together with some introductions to our member experts who have experience of these.


Cooperative Foundation Trust Schools

The Cooperative Foundation Trust model was established in 2007 by a group of school leaders and education professionals, in partnership with the Cooperative College. Cooperative values and principles were built into school governance for the first time. Schools retain a strong relationship with their local authorities, although they gain increased control in governance and autonomy.

A Cooperative Foundation Trust model involves:

  • Affirming a commitment to cooperative values and principles

  • Membership of the national organisation for all coop schools

  • Enabling all school stakeholders to have a democratic voice in the direction of the schools and Trust

  • Ownership of land and assets, and direct employment of staff


Cooperative Multi-Academy Trust Schools

Cooperative Academies and Multi Academy Trusts have a distinctive character as a DfE recognised variation to other Academy models (known as having Model 6 Articles, which can be found here).


Though they follow the same rules and procedures as every other Academy in the country, Cooperative Academies have some differences. Cooperative academies place an emphasis on:

  • Schools, teachers, and the community working together to provide the best environment for young people to thrive. 

  • Schools combating social deprivation.

  • Schools giving learners a global perspective.


Central to academy life is the voice of constituencies, often given agency through a democratic cooperative forum. This forum comprises different groups of stakeholders, including caregivers, pupils, staff and the local community. It shapes and supports the work of Trustees and Members, who are ultimately accountable for the performance of the Trust.

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