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I strongly believe we will only get the flexible, highly skilled and motivated workforce we need for the future if businesses invest in education.

Unfortunately, the old school attitude that Government educates, businesses employ is still prevalent amongst businesses, both big and small. Industry, quite rightly, demands high quality, values-led talent, but too few invest both the time and money to ensure this happens

This isn’t just about businesses being good corporate citizens (although this is an important factor), neither am I suggesting every business follows the Co-op’s lead indirectly sponsoring academies. But, businesses can offer schools and their pupils so much more than is currently the case, from providing senior managers as governors to offering structured work experience programmes and more meaningful site visits.

Stronger Academy schools, stronger community

At the Co-op we are set to boost the life chances of thousands of children from economically challenged communities in the North by trebling the number of academies we sponsor. I am extremely proud that we putting a further £3.6 million into our academies programme, increasing our support from 12 schools to 40 in the next three years. Our current academies have almost 10,000 students and employ more than 1,000 teachers and support staff. Under the new plan, that is expected to grow to more than 40,000 students and 4,000 staff.

Co-op sponsors schools in Manchester, Leeds and Stoke-on-Trent, all with their own unique challenges and which need additional help to support their young people. In these schools, and all those in our Co-op Academies Trust, Co-op colleagues serve as school governors and provide mentoring and careers advice along with work placement support.

By sponsoring these school, we’ve successfully demonstrated that co-operative values and principles, strong governance and the ability to leverage the support of the Co-op in areas such as brand, communications, HR, property, insurance and IT, can have a dramatic impact on school improvement.

Academy students have the opportunity to take on work placements and seven Apprentices were recently recruited to Co-op Insurance from our Academies. It is estimated that 250-300 Academy students will join us to work at Co-op by 2022, so by investing in education we are going to reap the benefits of recruiting the co-operators of the future.

Read the Co-op Academies Trust Annual Report 

Pippa Wicks
Deputy Co-op Group CEO

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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. This is excellent news and expands the Co-operative message to even more young people . Over the years we have sponsored many Schools in a variety of Co-operative School formats and it would be helpful if we followed up on these schools and rekindled their Co-operative credentials.


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