Illustration of Co-op Manchester Academy

As a governor at Co-op Academy Manchester and a Co-op colleague, today’s a proud day. We’re officially opening a brilliant new £18m extension which will double the size of the academy in Higher Blackley, North Manchester.

From visiting the site in a very cold, dark and snowy January, to see it now bathed in sunlight is incredible. It will be a wonderful addition to the academy, with massive benefits to the students and also the community.

It’s a far cry from where the school was in 2009 when Co-op took over – right at the bottom of the national league table for truancy.

Since then Co-op’s sponsorship has transformed the quality of education offered to the students and played a massive role in regenerating the whole community.

I’ve nearly completed my first academic year as a governor and in that time Co-op has announced that we’ll be investing £4m into our Co-op Academies Trust – which will take us from the 12 schools we support now to 40 schools across the North of England.

That’s a big statement and proves we’re serious about building stronger communities as part of our ambition.

And it doesn’t end there. This week the Co-op Academies Trust has been chosen to run Connell sixth form college in East Manchester which means we can extend the educational support (both vocational and academic) for students in Greater Manchester up to 18 years old.

It’s investments like this that really show why we’re a different kind of business.


Why I became a governor

I wanted to be a governor because I’d heard about the incredible journey our academies had been on.

I’d also spent time with students from the vast majority of our Co-op Academies as my team support many during their work experience placements at our Support Centre in Manchester.

My particular skill set – understanding digital and communications – is also one that brings value to the governing body.

What we do

Governors take a strategic role and are there to challenge, ask questions and guide the leadership team of the academy.

They’re also there to make sure our Co-op values and Ways of Being are taken into account in every decision, and that they’re lived by the academy and the students every day.

We have governing board meetings every term, as well as other meetings which cover things like HR and curriculum, community engagement and finance.

I’ve asked lots of questions during my first year and have been on courses to make sure I know what my role as a governor is, and how I can add value.

There are a LOT of acronyms in the academic world (I’ve challenged us to not use those), and a lot of processes to understand.

It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience where I’ve been involved in the academy presentation evening for former students, heard presentations from the teachers who completed the academy’s leadership training, and seen students perform at our Co-op AGM.

I’d encourage any colleague in the North of England to give it a go.

Gail Lyon
Head of Digital Engagement

Contact if you’re interested in being a governor.