Young Co-operatives at Lipson Community College, Plymouth
Lipson Learning Co-operative Trust in Plymouth, Devon, has a number of young co-operatives, all developing their own market and own enterprise skills.
Shaun Tucker (who founded the breakdance group) sums the group up by saying ‘the original nine are more like a family than a group of friends’. This is a group built around the co-operative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and, above all, solidarity. Every member of the group is valued and their opinion really does matter. They are an inspiration to see in rehearsal and performance. The group are now working across the city undertaking paid work for running workshops and performing at events. This money is then kept in their own bank account (held at school) and they agree how this money will be used. They have recently used their earnings to pay for transport and tickets to the Universal Dance Organisation competition in Birmingham (at which they won many trophies).
Each member is valued and respected, which also impacts on their recent GCSE grades in Dance (all achieving the highest grades in the school).
The Big Band
Launched officially last year in partnership with Plymouth Youth Music Service, The Big Band has become the only school Big Band in the city and is performing at high profile events across the region. They recently performed at the National Co-operative conference and got paid £2,000 to re-invest in the band. Gigs are decided as a group, as is the organisation and purchase of instruments and equipment.
The Big Band is made up of the very best musicians from across the City but hosted by Lipson and led by the staff. It is a truly collaborative and co-operative approach to learning and business and offers young people the opportunities to perform within a professional standard group.
A development of the Pavilion and on-site hairdressing salon, Hairversity has now opened its doors to the wider community. Sessions are open for the general public, with sessions run for particular groups of people (Afro-Caribbean and sessions for Muslim women where they feel safe to remove their burkas). This sensitive area has been enabled through close consultation with the Plymouth Racial Equality Council (one of Lipson Community College’s co-operative trust partners). The young people involved with this co-operative are learning not only skills in relation to hairdressing, but important knowledge and understanding of a diverse cultural community.
Other Young Co-operatives active in Lipson are also providing opportunities for young people and the community to work together whilst gaining valuable life skills and celebrating global awareness balanced with business and enterprise. These enrich the lives of young people involved by providing opportunities for them to prepare themselves for the global market.