We are a Co-operative Multi-Academy Trust based in the East of England and part of a national group of Co-operative Schools.
What makes us different from other MATs is our principle of autonomy. Yes we really mean it! Our schools really do have the freedom to be themselves and follow their own identity, reflecting the needs of their local community. We believe in the approach of what some might call an old fashioned headteacher having the power and freedom to set the direction for their school and to decide what is best to improve. However, they do not have to do that in isolation. Our MAT is about the Senior Leadership Team coming together regularly to brainstorm ideas and having peer to peer support. This approach cements ties between schools with shared values. We have seen through this ‘soft approach’ to management that our schools have naturally aligned over time in an organic way and can enjoy many benefits of collaboration including the following:-
• Shared costs for subscriptions and other packages.
• Colleague networks including shared moderation events and staff training to share practice and experience.
• Regular leadership meetings to discuss issues and agree future plans.
• Shared ownership of vision and values whilst retaining individual identities as schools.
CEE was born out of a number of schools working together in a federation, which sadly did not have strong enough ties to realise the gains and benefits that we now see through academisation.
Our schools share a common set of values and principles for the benefit of all stakeholders from students through to staff, parents, governors and the local community.
In the changing education landscape, we are pioneering a bold and exciting evolution of the Multi-Academy Trust model that offers an alternative way of educating the next generation.
Built on the values and ethics of the Co-operative movement and supported by the well-established co-operative business model, our sole objective is to prepare and equip each young person for the next stage of life, allowing them to realise their full potential within a network of well supported schools.
We are committed to a robust, effective, but, above all, user-friendly new structure dedicated to setting schools free to do what they do best – teach. In the Co-operative Education model each academy is an accountable-autonomous organisation led by its local stakeholders including parents, staff and governors within the framework formed by the Academy Trust.
What does co-operative learning actually look like/mean in practice?
In September 2021, CEE began working with Jakob Werdelin, a leading specialist in Cooperative Learning with extensive experience with Norfolk schools. Cooperative Learning is a teaching strategy that supports pupils working together to improve academic outcomes for everyone. Very importantly for our region, Cooperative Learning builds resilience, trains social skills and increases vocabulary. We believe that, after COVID-19, this approach will help us build back better. In line with our Trust values, our aim for a collaborative ethos will not be limited to the classroom teaching. We want our individual teachers, teaching assistants and school leaders to be able to support each other across the Trust, and Cooperative Learning will give us the right balance between cross-trust cohesion and each school’s unique ethos.
We’re founded on a set of values and principles describing a different, fairer and better way of operating. In the tradition of the co-op founders, in addition to the core values below, members operate according to the ethical values of: honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
Members joining together and making a difference. We support learners, parents, carers and staff to help themselves
Every member doing their bit, we encourage learners, parents, carers and staff to take responsibility for, and answer to their actions.
All members are equal. No matter on what size, shape or Ofsted Status of the school, we give our learners, parents, carers and staff a say in the way we run our schools
Our co-op gives all members the same opportunity to get involved, from trading services with each other to having input into the strategic direction of the trust.
Providing both the disadvantaged and privileged members with fair accommodation and treatment according to their needs - in order to put them on equivalent ground.
We share interests and common purposes with our learners, parents, carers and staff, and with other schools in the communities we serve
Don’t take our word for it, here is what our staff say about working in our schools and MAT
"We are allowed to be individuals and prioritise what our schools need. Our schools keep their identity despite being part of a MAT"
"Being a small Trust, we can build good working relationships with colleagues across the Trust and share best practice"
"Staff are listened to and you feel part of the team. Your opinions are valued"
"CEE treats its staff as people who each have an important role to play in the smooth running of the schools and Trust"
We are small enough for all our staff to know everyone and provide peer to peer support. However, sometimes life throws up challenges which mean the support of colleagues is not enough. At that point we have a free comprehensive range of professional support to help our staff in times of difficulty, be that physio for a back injury, or counselling for mental health problems and everything in between
Our governance structure and co-operative values of equality and democracy ensure that the voices of all stakeholders from pupils, teachers, parents, governors and community are heard and influence policy and decision making.
We will commit to always having a Local Governing Committee with a focus on ensuring high standards in curriculum delivery and pupil achievement, supporting the schools through regular monitoring. This will always include parental representation and the meet the needs of the individual school.
We actively encourage and promote co-operation amongst the academies within our trust and regional groups to promote best practice, curriculum innovation and staff development but also among other co-operative schools nationally, enabling a true school to school support system.
Your school will immediately gain access to the wide network of other Co-operative Schools through membership of the Schools Co-operative Society. Our Principle of Co-operation amongst Co-operatives help to ensure that each schools has access to their wider community no matter what their local structure.