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Co-op move marks new era in post-16 education

A new era in sixth form education began today when the Co-op Academies Trust officially adopted the Connell Sixth Form College in East Manchester.

A new era in sixth form education began today when the Co-op Academies Trust officially adopted the Connell Sixth Form College in East Manchester.

For the first time, from September, as well as offering both academic and vocational courses, Connell Co-op College, as it will now be known, will enable students to start courses that  include one day paid work experience with the Co-op. For the remainder of the time they will study for a BTEC Level 3 qualification across a range of business areas.

The Co-op already offers 16-year-olds leaving its academies the opportunity to become an apprentice, but this is the first time that teenagers will receive a grant so they can work at the Co-op while continuing  their sixth form studies.

Connell Co-op College, which has been rated as “good” by Ofsted, is ideally placed to attract students from across Greater Manchester, including those that attend the Co-op’s four academies in North Manchester and Salford,

Part of the  Etihad campus, Connell Co-op College will continue it close working partnership with Manchester City whose 16-18 year old players attend lessons.

All existing staff from the college, which was previously run by Bright Future Educational Trust, have been transferred to the Co-op Academies Trust that currently runs a total of 20 academies and colleges in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Merseyside and North Staffordshire but has ambitious plans to expand to 40 by 2022.

Frank Norris, Director of the Co-op Academies Trust said: “This is an exciting opportunity for our trust. The excellent facilities and the quality of the teaching, together with its location and first class transport links, means that we can offer sixth form places to the whole of the Manchester conurbation.  

“As well as the innovative BTEC courses, including the ground-breaking work experience, we intend to offer a well-rounded blend of courses designed to appeal to all students regardless of their sixth form preferences.

“We have demonstrated that a focus on improving the quality of teaching, strongly applying co-operative values and principles, effective governance and the ability to leverage the resources from the Co-op can have a dramatic positive impact.”

Steve Murrells, CEO of the Co-op, said: “By providing a great education, Co-op Academies are changing the lives of thousands of young people. Our approach to education is built on the same principles as all co-operatives across the world – working to empower teachers and young people to work together to create a better school and a better community.

“Connell Co-op College means we can substantially extend our post 16 offer and at a time when education and work practices are changing radically our holistic approach empowers us to improve the employability of all our students.

“There is a golden thread running from our academies, through work experience programmes and our apprenticeship schemes, providing a unique pathway to work for young people.”