'Co-operative' Explained

What are Co-operatives?

  •  They are a democratic, one member, one vote organisation
  •  They have a set of values and principles
  •  They were set up to meet the needs of the community
  •  They belong to their members
  •  They are a Co-operative Society
  •  They belong to a worldwide movement

What Co-operatives are not....

  •  A co-operative is not Public Limited Company
  •  It does not give shares to its customers
  •  It does not belong to investors
  •  It was not set up to profit from a need
  •  Their profit does not go to directors and managers as bonuses
  •  Their profit does not go their shareholders
  •  Co-operatives are not owned by directors, managers, banks or government


Apart from the more traditional and well known reasons for members, there also four key roles and functions which membership enables.

You cannot be a Co-operative Academy Trust without members.

Put simply, Co-operatives are membership organisations.  They are set up to meet the needs of their members and if they cease to have members, they cease to be co-operatives.  A Co-operative Academy Trust cannot meet its legal requirements for holding meetings, filing accounts, and reporting to Companies House and the Charities Commission without having a membership.

So recruiting and maintaining a membership base is a core activity for any co-operative.

Member loyalty is crucial to the success of Co-operatives

Co-operatives cannot survive without the active participation of their members.  Members will support their co-operatives more than non-members.  By having a link with the Co-operative Academy Trust, members from all constituency groups have a vested interest in the development and performance of the college.  The principle of ‘Co-operation among Co-operatives’ also encourages members to be loyal to the co-operative and to other co-operatives, for instance supporting those in developing countries through buying and promoting fair-trade goods.

Co-operatives need active members to guide their Co-operatives

Co-operatives need members to participate in the democratic process to ensure that they focus on meeting the needs of members.  Members do this by attending meetings, asking questions and making proposals.  Co-operatives also rely on elected members to provide vision and direction and to hold the Governing Body to account for their actions.  Members can be a source of ideas and innovation for co-operatives.

Members are the link between their co-operatives and the community

In all co-operatives, members provide direct links with the communities they serve.  Co-operatives need to reflect their changing communities, ensuring they are responsive organisations that continually attract new members.

Essential Roles and Responsibilities

Members (Learners/Students, Parents/Carers, Staff, Community, Alumni)

  •  Receive the annual accounts prior to legal filing (make available, put on website)
  •  Receive the annual directors statement prior to legal filing
  •  Hold Academy Trustees to account
  •  Propose and vote on resolutions
  •  Elect representatives to the Academy Trust Forum

Forum (representative body of the whole members)

  •  Members elect the Forum
  •  Forum meets at least once a year
  •  Appoint Academy Trustees from the Forum
  •  Provide in year challenge and support to Academy Trustees
  •  Act as a method of seeking the view of stakeholder groups
  •  Represent the membership
  •  Provide advice and guidance to Academy Trustees

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

  •  Annual meeting
  •  Governing Body to agree when and where
  •  Publish notice to announce AGM 14 days prior to the meeting taking place.
  •  Quorum – min 5 members (at least one from 3 different constituencies)
  •  Chair – as nominated by Governing Body
  •  Annual Accounts must be received by the AGM prior to filing

Download Application Form