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As we continue our investment into education and the Co-op Academies Trust, I was very pleased to attend the gala opening of the new extension to the Co-op Academy of Manchester.

This Academy Trust school was the first to join the Co-op family in 2009 and it’s now a school at the heart of Blackley, serving the diverse community.

Development and Co-op values

At the time the school came in to the trust it had the worst attendance in the UK. In that time I’ve been delighted to witness the gigantic improvements made. As well as having the best attendance record of any city academy in the UK, its attainment and exam results are well up and it has become a beacon of excellence in the community.

The spirit of our Co-op values lives at the heart of the school’s ethos and this has been accomplished by the deep involvement of Co-op colleagues acting as governors and students can often be seen at 1 Angel Square, Co-op’s Support Centre.

New facilities

The gala evening was designed to show off the many wonderful new facilities that their extension brings. There’s a brand-new library, music recording and rehearsal facilities, art classrooms and even a climbing wall.

Russell Gill, Chair of the Trust’s Board, and I were given a tour of the new facilities by two of the students, who showed tremendous enthusiasm and confidence. Their pride for their school really showed.

For me, the highlight of the evening was a gala performance in the school’s new theatre. The first ever theatre in Blackley, complete with its own orchestra pit. It’s simply a magnificent performance space and made for a wonderful showcase of the students’ skills in the performing arts.

As on my previous visit to the school, it was very apparent that everyone involved – students, staff, parents and governors – were tremendously proud of being part of the Co-op family, and the transformation they had all worked to deliver in the education provided by the school. I had the great pleasure of telling them that the Co-op was just as proud of them.

The good news will keep on rolling – over the next three years the Co-op Academy Trust will increase from 12 schools at present to almost 40 schools. It will be wonderful to be part of that journey and I for one look forward to welcoming the new schools.

Nick Crofts
President, National Members’ Council

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