Co-operativism as an Alternative : Choice, assimilation and challenge
The growth of co-operative schools is a promising and exciting development in the diverse school system that is unfolding in England. It challenges assumptions of individualism and the economic model of private competitive markets that underlie much of the thinking that dominates educational policy. What does it mean, however, to see co-operative schools as an alternative? What does ‘alternative’ mean in this context? This chapter explores the positioning of co-operativism as an alternative form of education in the English school system. It considers different kinds of ‘strategic identity’ as an alternative and different stances - ‘orientations’ - which alternatives may take towards boundaries and the external environment. Co-operativism is well placed to play a key role in helping to reshape mainstream policy discourse on education. There are, however, pressures and challenges towards assimilation as well as opportunities to be ‘activist’ in influencing educational policy. This chapter offers a framework of strategic identities and orientations to help in reflecting on these challenges and opportunities.