Co-operative College

The Co-operative College [1]
Founded 1919 (1919)
Headquarters Manchester, United Kingdom
Area served
Manchester, England
Key people
Simon Parkinson, Chief Executive and Principal

The Co-operative College is a British educational charity dedicated to the promotion of co-operative values, ideas and principles within co-operatives, communities and society.[2]

Origins and development

Stanford Hall, Nottinghamshire where the college was based from 1944 to 2001

The Co-operative College was established in 1919 by the Co-operative Union with ten overseas students based on the second floor of Holyoake House, Manchester, and in 1943 the College became a charitable trust.

In 1945, Holyoake House was damage by a blitz, and the Co-operative College was forced to relocate to Stanford Hall, where it spent almost fifty years. Along the years that the College spent in Stanford, it ran residential courses in social/economic subjects for adult learners and a wide range of retail and management courses for co-operative employees. In 1946, Dr Robert Marshall, OBE, MA, became the Principal and Chief Executive Officer and built up the reputation of the College as a national and international institution.

The College has since returned to its original home at Holyoake House, and Simon Parkinson is Chief Executive and Principal.

Key areas of work

Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, where the College is currently based.


The Research team works with a growing number of partners from the co-operative movement and the higher education sector carrying out research into the historical and contemporary role of co-operation. The Co-operative College is working hard to disseminate research that makes society aware of the impact of the co-operative movement.

Learning and development

The Co-operative College works with all the major co-operative societies in the U.K. and delivers programmes of training and education around the world, to help individuals and groups achieve the level of skill, knowledge and understanding required to translate ideals into effective practice.

The College learning team ensures that all the members, directors, managers and employees have training programmes designed to meet their needs, always with the Co-operative Values and Principles at the heart of all training.

International work

The Co-operative College works in nearly 20 countries in Africa and the Asia/Pacific region. The College’s international work is supporting co-operatives in the common global endeavor to end poverty and create a fairer world for all.

Some of its partners overseas are:

Its international work includes:


The Heritage team at the College is responsible for ensuring that all artifacts and documentation in relation with the co-operative movement are collected, safeguarded and made accessible for lifelong learning and research.

People interested in knowing about the extraordinary history and development of the worldwide co-operative movement, its heritage and contemporary relevance can approach it through the Rochdale Pioneers Museum[4] and the National Co-operative Archive.

Schools and young people

The College, following the steps of Robert Owen, considers education as an underpinning element, and is involved in projects that reach school and young people in different fields.

In partnership with the Co-operative Group, the College is developing a network of schools specialised in Business and Enterprise.

In the U.K., the College is developing new models to run schools as co-operatives; the co-operative trust schools are schools that are set up like co-operatives.

Besides this, the Co-operative College also has its “Young Co-operative” programme,[5] which any school can become involved with. This programme encourages pupils to create their own co-operative business.

See also


  2. Co-operative Values Make a Difference - Co-operative College Strategic Plan 2008-2010 (PDF), Co-operative College, retrieved 18 January 2010
  3. Stirling Smith (2007) After the Angry Sea: co-operatives and the tsunami

Coordinates: 53°29′12″N 2°14′22″W / 53.4866°N 2.2394°W / 53.4866; -2.2394

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