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Kirkby Stephen Grammar School has become the first co-operative converter Academy.
The school, which had previously been a co-operative Trust, became an Academy on 1 August using a co-operative Academy conversion model developed by the Co-operative College with law firm Cobbetts and approved by the Department for Education.
Converter status, which is different from ‘sponsor’ Academies, is an option available to schools with a strong record in achievement reflected in their OFSTED reports. Both co-operative Trust schools who want to take advantage of the additional powers of Academies and community schools wishing to convert using the co-operative model have expressed interest in becoming co-operative converter Academies.
The model retains the multi-stakeholder structure used by co-operative Trusts: parents and carers, staff, students and the local community can all become members and have a direct say in the running of the Academy.
David Keetley, Head Teacher of Kirkby Stephen, pictured said: “The membership scheme and forum offered by the co-operative model will provide the local community with a stronger voice in the education provision in this area and help shape future developments. Their expertise and experience will also strengthen our governance. “We endorse the co-operative values and will build on our existing partnerships and work with new partners for the benefit of all our pupils and the local community. The freedoms offered by becoming an Academy bring greater financial security and more options for our small school. We are very excited about it.”
Julie Thorpe, Head of School and Youth Programmes at the Co-operative College, said: “It is great to see Kirkby Stephen established at the first co-operative converter Academy. The co-operative model means that whilst they have independent status they will remain owned and controlled by their stakeholders – the students, staff, parents, and local community, rather than being taken over by a private company. Lots of other schools are considering this option and several more will open in the coming months. Co-operative Academies offer a real, bottom-up, democratic model – one which offers a true voice to the people who really care about the success of their school.”
If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a co-operative converter Academy email Julie@co-op.ac.uk.