How is London's first Co-operative Academy empowering its students to play a key role in the school's running, whilst building mutual trust and respect?

Corelli School pupils and staffCorelli College became a co-operative academy in September 2011.  Our site is in the heart of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and our predecessor school was the first purpose built comprehensive in the country.  As we embarked on our journey to conversion we consciously wanted to ensure that we achieved a sense of community, as school where students and families feel they have a place and one with a shared common purpose.

At Corelli College we challenge and enable all students to be leaders, through a keen focus on student leadership.  The student leadership programme at Corelli College is about involving students in meaningful ways both in and beyond the classroom.

Students have a wide range of opportunities to demonstrate and develop their leadership skills.  Corelli College students are empowered to have ownership of their college and to be active partners in continuing to improve the college.

Students interested in having a voice in our new college were invited to research and develop our student leadership model.  They looked at models and visited other schools to work together to develop the student leadership model and create job descriptions for all of the roles being introduced. The student leadership model was launched through a film to the whole college and application forms and deadline information shared.

Student Leadership Roles at Corelli College

Student Community Leaders

There are 2 - 3 community leaders from each of our 5 vertical communities (houses).  This group of students makes up the College Council and run their Community Councils.  They were first tasked with supporting the development of the identity and ethos of their community and leading the team of student leaders in each community.  The communities and 10 tutor groups within them are vertical groups and take their names from the co-operative values: Trust, Democracy, Equality, Solidarity and Independence.


This group of students are at present working on community action projects to address road safety locally and improve the education of young people around mental health issues.  Over the 2 years that our leadership programme has been running the student community leaders have implemented a wide range of changes, including changing the focus of whole college and community assemblies, running the Jack Petchey award scheme, training a local primary school student council and developing the Corelli College student essentials.


Tutor Group Representatives

Each of our 50 tutor groups has a tutor group representative who attends the half termly community council meetings.  The tutor representatives are responsible for gathering and sharing the voice of their tutor groups via the half termly tutor group board meetings.  Many of the actions taken by the College Council have come via the tutor group board meetings.


Activities and Events Committee

Each community has between 4 - 6 A&E committee members.  The community committees work as discreet groups who organise fund raising events for their identified charities and come together to organise whole college events, for example the annual prom, concerts and whole college fundraising.


Sports Captains

The sports captains select and train the community sports teams who compete in the year long programme of inter community competitions called the Corelli Olympians.


Duty Monitors

This group of students assist with duties before college and at break times.  Their role is to assist in promoting high standards of behaviour, prevent and help in conflict situations and approach students if they appear to be sad and lonely.   


Beyond the community structure of student leadership there are a variety of ways in which students can get involved in the College.


Farm Academy Leaders

Our Farm Academy leaders look after our chickens and bees and are responsible for developing a whole college understanding of sustainability, food production and fair trade.  They have developed teaching materials and plan and run our termly farmers markets, selling our produce, whilst developing links with the wider community.


Philosophy Leaders

A number of our students have trained as Philosophy Leaders.  They have planned and led workshops on Philosophy for Children for local primary schools, as well as delivering philosophy sessions to students from years 7 - 11 during tutor times.


Arts Leaders

The Corelli College Arts Leaders have been involved in a range of projects.  The list of achievements includes developing a project with local primary schools, where the leaders mentored the younger students in expressing their ideas about the environmental and social impact of the Olympic Games on them and their communities.


Each year the Arts Leaders are involved in our summer school which supports year 6 students in their transition to Corelli College.  They work alongside college staff and professional artists to produce a final art piece to be showcased at a London festival. The Arts Leaders recognise that the summer school has a huge impact on the development of their own skills and supports a successful secondary school transition for the younger students.


Peer Tutors

A number of year 9 students have trained as peer tutors.  They listen to year 7 students read twice a week, which has impacted positively on the reading ages of the year 7 students involved.  The peer tutors have developed excellent relationships with the younger students, as well as a greater understanding of learning. One of our peer tutors sums up the experience: "As much as the peer tutoring helps my tutee, it helps me as well.  Being trained to become a peer tutor and becoming one has been a great experience and has motivated me to become more involved in student leadership at Corelli College."


Anti homophobia working party

A group of students are involved in the anti homophobia working party in college.  The students have collaborated with staff in developing tutor time materials for LGBT history month, as well as sharing their own experiences in a whole college assembly, to both challenge homophobia and promote equality.  A group of our students have also devised and led drama workshops on anti homophobia for a number of Greenwich primary schools.


This model is now being used for our anti racism working party, as well as our disability working party.


Students' view on impact

The students have reported that these opportunities have extended and strengthened the ways in which they have become involved in their College.  Students have said that Corelli College feels like a school where the students have a voice and can participate fully in college life.


Since the College opened, the students have developed a deep understanding of the co-operative values.  The communities to which they belong have helped to embed these values.  The opportunities students are given enable them to put the co-operative values into practice and they now often refer to the co-operative values as our co-operative values.


The ways in which our students have been working with many of our local primary schools has had a positive impact on how the local community see Corelli students.


Student leaders have recently said: "I feel that Corelli students are proud to be Corelli students because of this." 

And that 

"The increased responsibility we have been given in the College is helping to prepare us for life, makes us feel valued as young people and has enabled the transition to Corelli College to be smooth."

Student leadership and increasing participation in the college continues to be a key focus.  The College development plan states that "Our College challenges and enables all students to be leaders" and as we continue to develop our student leadership model and embark on new projects such as students as researchers and a lead learners programme, we move closer to achieving this.



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