Mervyn Wilson: Co-operation or Competition – which way forward for education?

Below are details of Mervyn Wilson’s talk at the SSC AGM on May 11th. All welcome.

Many describe the the education system as being in crisis, with legislative reforms impacting from Early Years to Higher Education. Central to these reforms is a notion that greater competition is needed to drive up standards. Can marketisation and privatisation of the system improve access to and standards in education provision? Will these strategies reduce or exasperate the massive inequalities in the system today? Is there an alternative? Are strategies based on co-operation and collaboration more likely to succeed in addressing these issues?

Mervyn Wilson is Chief Executive and Principal of the Co-operative College. The College has led work to develop alternative co-operative models in the face of educational reforms. Today there are approaching 500 schools using co-operative models, with many more consulting. The national network, the Schools Co-operative Society provides a distinct alternative to the rapid growth of the academy chains. Can these models be extended into Further and Higher Education, and is there now a real opportunity to build a distinct co-operative vision for education provision?

Mervyn has worked in the co-operative sector for over thirty years. He specialised in member education, co-operative identity and governance and has led work to develop a distinct co-operative element in the state education sector. Today there are nearly 500 co-operative trust schools and converter academies and a national network, the Schools Co-operative Society. He is a member of the Board of the Co-operative Institute for Peace and Social Cohesion, a Trustee of the Co-operative Heritage Trust, Chair of the Royal Docks Co-operative Learning Partnership and a Fellow of the RSA.

7 thoughts on “Mervyn Wilson: Co-operation or Competition – which way forward for education?

  1. Very interested in understanding more on this theme. I wonder how one can adjudge appropriately the merits of each approach, current research on the issue and examples of both types of institution………..plenty to learn about.

  2. Education has more nonzero ( sum aspects than zero sum aspects. Healthy competition in both these spaces I consider as good drivers. (The tautology being in the nuanced meanings of healthy and good.). We should try to collaborate and often do unintentionally by competition. I think that some ugly problems arise when the competition is unhealthy, and I’m not just talking about league tables, cheating, brow beating and bullying. We could do with a better synthesis considering Sayre’s Law ('s_law) simply as a thesis. An antithesis being a consideration of value, not just using traditional currency. Sometimes collaboration without direct competition is inefficient. A race to gain new knowledge can be good so long as it is really not one race, but a whole lot of short races. Sometimes though, we all should work together in intentional collaboration and be open to achieve our goals. Peace be with you 🙂

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