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Forms and Understandings of Engagement in a Co-operative School Setting

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Deborah RallsORCiD


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Some schools set out explicitly to resist the tendency to ‘do to’, seeking to develop forms of engagement based on more equal partnerships and a recognition of the assets available in their partners. The purpose of this study was to investigate the efforts of one such school – a Co-operative school - in order to understand the possibilities and limits of engagement understood in this sense. a Co-operative school, a school that has made an explicit commitment to engaging its stakeholders more democratically via its adherence to the Co-operative values and governance structure. The study found that Co-operative school governance offered the potential for more democratic, relational forms of engagement with stakeholders. Student engagement was most affected by the conversion to a co-operative school; the relaunch of a democratically elected Student Council has resulted in a far broader range of engagement of young people from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds in increased levels of school decision-making. The relaunch of a Cooperative School Council caused school leaders to question previous perceptions of student engagement as a result of the shift in the power dynamic that has occurred since the re-launch of the Student Council – a more relational approach to student engagement.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ralls D

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Unpublished

Conference Name: The Co-operative Education Conference

Year of Conference: 2016

Acceptance date: 15/02/2016