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Co-operative Identity Mark (CIM)

Register for the CIM

CIM launch event group pictureWhat is the Co-operative Identity Mark (CIM)?

Co-operative schools vary greatly in size, stage, location, specialism and governance model. One thing they all share is their desire to establish and strengthen their co-operative ethos and to implement the values and principles of the co‑operative movement in all aspects of their work.

These values and principles, enshrined in the ‘Statement of Co-operative Identity’, are the driving philosophy behind a huge section of the global economy – retail, agricultural, housing, health, leisure, transport and service industries – wherever people have chosen to work together for the benefit of their members and their wider communities.

In co-operative schools the values should be identifiable in:

  • Governance and membership
  • Curriculum
  • Pedagogy
  • Staff development
  • Community engagement

The Co-operative Identity Mark has been developed by the Co-operative College and the Schools Co‑operative Society to support schools in embedding the values within all aspects of their work. It provides a ‘quality’ framework for continued development which incorporates elements of peer support and practice sharing with other co-operative schools. The CIM is validated and quality assured by The Co-operative College.

The Mark is awarded at one of four levels:

  • Emerging
  • Developing
  • Established
  • Leading

Schools can re-apply every one to three years to progress through the levels.

“What was useful about it was showing the importance of taking our work beyond the school and engaging with the community.”
Patsy Kane, Whalley Range High School

What do we have to do?

The main steps in the process are:

  1. Register your school for the Mark with the Co‑operative College (see below).
  2. Identify two members of staff who will champion work towards the Mark. One will lead the process within your own school, the other will be involved in peer review, visits to other schools and providing an external input and support. Both these staff will take part in a short training programme of webinars and online learning so that they understand the process and their role within it.
  3. Set up a Co-operative Identity Mark steering group, including representatives of your school’s stakeholder groups. This group will undertake a review of what is already taking place and help to plan future developments.
  4. Host a visit from an external reviewer – someone from another school who will verify your self‑assessment.

Barbara Miller“The Co‑operative Identity Mark process recognises the values that help a community to help itself and that really is what education is about.”
Barbara Miller, Birches Head High School

What commitment do we have to make?

Staff time:

  • Online training course.
  • Work with your Co-operative Identity Mark group.
  • Completing the self-evaluation and case study.
  • Two full-day visits to other schools by one member of staff.
  • Arranging and hosting a review visit.


  • £500 + VAT primary/special schools
  • £850 + VAT secondary schools

Bursaries will be made available to schools with less than 100 pupils. This bursary will cover 50% of the registration fee. Please contact us if you wish to apply for this subsidy. Co-operative Trusts who register all their full-member schools will receive a discount of 10%.

Dave Boston“We need mechanisms and support structures such as the CIM to give us those frameworks to share good practice across schools. ”
Dave Boston, Chief Executive, Schools Co-operative Society

Where do we start?

Complete and return the registration form – ( The team at the Co‑operative College will be in touch to arrange the training for your nominated members of staff and to provide all the resources you need.

For more information contact

John Shoefield“The Co‑operative Identity Mark allowed us to focus on where we are and where we want to go as a learning Trust and a co‑operative school.”
Jonathan Schofield, Royds Hall High School