Community ownership models; an evidence based approach to transformation of a county town in East Sussex.



Building operational models forms the backbone of work that needs to be undertaken if we are to adapt to, and mitigate the impact of the ecological crisis that we are in the midst of. The first principles of these models builds from the question of the effectiveness and agility of the current systems and focuses specifically upon the operations and applications of these systems and the limitations they offer for community regeneration.

Setting the background:

We are seeing multiple breakdowns within our wider ecosystem and these, unequivocally, are directly related to the failure of our current ways of organising ourselves as a species. This project aims to focus upon the county town of Lewes, East Sussex, with a population of 18,000 people. Recently the town has seen many high street shops close down and sit stagnant for years on end, we have a gentrification effect due to escalating house prices and we have an over population of vehicles on the roads, with congestion clogging up the town with some areas exceeding the EU pollution standards.
Most shops within the town are considered expensive, because they have to be, and, as with most towns there is a constant questioning around places for young people to hang out, the constant tackling of material waste, parking, a lack of affordable public transport and house price escalation and, as with all areas, increases in the number of families accessing food banks and all household feeling the cost of living crisis take firm hold.
The average house price in Lewes is currently around £472,000 (Rightmove) and with median UK salaries at just under £26,000 (ONS) that puts the average house price at just over 18 times the average UK salary. Anyone that has grown up in the local area would be considered lucky to be able to stay in the town, but most are priced out and live in the surrounding villages and towns. The concern is one of a disparate community, gentrified, aging or second home owners.
The term community, is a particular focus of this project. The connotations this has is one of a collective of people, collaborating for a particular purpose. But, unlike intentional communities, where this is exactly the value, the question to unpick concerns how a town of this size can provide the structures that hold people within community, not, as you see from the above paragraph, push them from it.


The housing sector is not atypical but part of a systemic wicked problem that we find ourselves in. Each system, company, service, organisation, collective and, indeed most cooperatives, councils and authorities all play into the anthropocentric design of the current economic model. Breaking away from this is not an easy undertaking but, it is, as has been so neatly demonstrated through its own success, and the destruction of our entire biosphere, an imperative that we must urgently work towards.
Before we embark upon the new paradigm I would like to explore further the previous statement that all instruments are designed to support the destruction of our natural resources, as this is the main tenant our capitalist economy; capital output must exceed both labour and natural resource input.
Let us dwell on the tools of capitalism first, primarily the tool we all know and use is money. This simple universal exchange token is much more nuanced than it first seems. Whether you are council or coop if you use money to operate services, you are fueling the machine to continue its hunt for more. Breaking this down; and of course I can hear outcries of conspiracy, we could consider the following;
our organisations are currently structured very unlike ecosystems and instead of providing a balance, money flows through a Proof of Work concept. Once the work is done, an arbitrary amount of money is transferred to the individual. The amount of money transferred is based upon a few assumptions. One, how much money can be afforded to that individual and two, what are the current market parameters that might influence that amount; i.e. a similar role elsewhere or a lack of that role elsewhere.
money is simply a fiat currency, not backed by any commodity, but the value maintained by the government itself. The mechanism the UK government has for borrowing money is through the Bank of England and, through the agreement it has, it can request any amount at any time. The Bank then sets the rate at which the Government pays that back and the increase in the amount borrowed will influence the wider market.
So, one now questions what happens to that money once it has been transferred to the individual? In most cases it is spent on goods and services required (basic needs), once they have been met, entertainment and luxury items (leisure needs) and, if they are all met, money either accumulates within a bank account, of which the bank can make further profit when it becomes invested into a project or venture that will provide a return on investment.

It is this very mechanism that drives our system here in the UK, to borrow or not to borrow, that is the question, but, unlike an individual borrowing, the consequence of not paying back is barely worth noting here.. as in, there is none.

Understanding how this has twisted our perception of life itself is not to be underestimated and indeed it is this inability to extract ourselves form this model of operation, or even the notion of it, that keep us all enslaved to the system that necessitates that we have to work more and strive for growth, more, more and more.
Everyone is in this mess, until we design a new model that is exactly the opposite of this extraction, one of regeneration.

Philosophy of Ecological, Cultural, Spiritual & Indigenous Education (PECSIE) should now form the basis of our scope to realign humanity with the ecosystem that we are entwined. (Why)
Environmental Sustainable Consultancy (ESCape) The support service for these organisaitons and individuals to enable their positive change. This informs all operational service. (How)
Sustainable Environmental Wellbeing Network (SEWN) Network of organisations and individuals who want to be part of the regenerative civics program. (How)

Enacting the United Nations Sustainable Development goals is a focus for us all to be working towards. Eroding or undermining these principles through current operational activities and waiting for the target deadline to arrive with some hope that overnight action might occur as the clock strikes the turn of day is both immoral and unethical.

Both focus and resource must been placed to level up wider inequalities experienced through disadvantage
(WHO, 2018.)

Our current system of schooling is the focus of this paper and it is with caution that we tread this line.

Only 7% variation in academic outcomes are a consequence of schooling, therefore a holistic focus upon wellbeing and community resilience, as part of a holistic education process, form the drive for equity and justice
(Lewis, 2006; Evans & Davis, 2010.)

If it is acknowledged that academic output is not the purpose of education then why do we still have a system that is measuring that output?
At age 25 years, 23.0% of free school meal (FSM) recipients who attended school in England had recorded earnings above the annualised full-time equivalent of the Living Wage in comparison with 43.5% of those that did not.
(Office for National Statistics, 2022.)



Education refocused:


Focusing upon establishments and institutions as providers supports a narrowed view of education, that it only occurs in these institutions. Education is, however, an iterative process, the process of learning never ends. This process does not distinguish between the establishment, the institution, the community or the environment; they all play a part in the social acculturation of individuals (Lawson, 1986) . Having a process that does not constantly critique, challenge and reform itself to meet the needs of its community, one that does not learn through research, is to reject education itself.

Young people are increasingly failed by a system that does not support or recognise self efficacy or children as agentic learners. It is based within a capitalist system and, therefore the symptomatic National Curriculum values some knowledge over others. The assumption that certain acquired knowledge is learned by a specific chronological point does not recognise the concept of developmentally appropriate nor does it recognise that inequality in wider society is not something that the current school system can somehow fix to ensure that all pupils will fit the mold that the school has been charged with.

‘teachers are still struggling with the consequences of the standards agenda
… the heightened neoliberalism after 2010, which has increased the
emphasis on performativity, accountability and achievement in schools, has
intensified their opposition to how standards have been implemented.’
(Williams-Brown & Jopling, 2021, p.238.)

The current system is unable to cater for the needs of increasingly growing disaffected groups and, as our institutions look to offer ‘alternative’ provisions, co-curriculums, to support and ‘re-engage’ young people within a system of learning, should we not be asking the question as to if the system itself is fit for purpose.

Within the realms of primary education, the entanglement of wellbeing and environment is something that must therefore take to the fore. Roberts et al (2020), citing Wilson (1984), posit that ‘biophilia’ is our innate attachment to our natural environment, and that our existence is entwined. It is our desire to project ourselves as masters of our universe, dissected by Foucault's critique of the human sciences invention of man as a focus of knowledge (Foucault, 2001), that may be credited for simplifying our existence. We have focused, through these human sciences, primarily upon our own priorities, humanist, dismissive of our place within the ecology of life, determined to be the ruler, the controller, the agent of our own destiny. But at what cost?

Indeed, research demonstrates that our natural environment plays many roles, beit physical health; cognitive function; spiritual development; psychological wellbeing or self-care (Roberts et al, 2020). Jordan (2009 in Roberts et al, 2020) suggests that the natural environment operates as a secure base for children, allowing them to mediate negative mood states and maintain more positive ones. Whilst valuable, these humanist positions are in danger of leading to a perception that we are somehow separate to nature, that ‘it’ (the natural environment) can in some way help ‘us’ (humans). Logically this leads to an objectification, with Clark & Mcphie (2014) expressing concern that this simplification of our relationship with the environment is part of the reason for the crisis we find ourselves in.

Post pandemic, questions have arisen as to the function of school. Increasing opportunities, made available through technological advances, enables access to a range of resources and knowledge online, that can be digested at any time. The purpose of school, and indeed the facility it operates within, therefore needs to refocus on the meaning and purpose of education, not as a simplistic tool for disseminating particular knowledge but as a bastion for engaging young people in a love of learning, instilling a value in their individuality while supporting their sense of belonging to and connection with their environment.

Recognising that resources are finite, that we are within the midst of a climate crisis, necessitates that we reevaluate our purpose and functions. The sustainable development of humankind is, and must be, considerate of the ecosystem we are part of and, therefore, in order to enable a flourishing and collaborative community, focus needs to be placed upon adaptation to support and nurture community resilience, while we work to mitigate against the consequences of climate change that are beginning to be felt.


A holistic approach to education, where do we start?

Playing and understanding how to play successfully with others is one of our first achievements. Our focus upon the tools that enable play is as much part of learning as the play itself. The value we place in the enactors that support and facilitate play is critical, therefore, in the process of Lawson’s social acculturation, the understanding of norms and accepted values within our environment. Play supports our understanding of the world around us, therefore the environment we play in and what we play with, shapes our values and ethos. Playing with others who denote destructive behaviours will, unless reinforced otherwise, support a perceived value upon destruction. It is therefore necessary to play with others who can shape our play positively with values they themselves learned through their developmental journey. During this co-constructed learning, being supported in play, we recognise and begin to understand emotions, through cause and effect, of how our own behaviours and actions impact others around us, not just humans but our whole environment. Play is the way we begin to see, recognise, understand and critique the world around us. If we are not able to critically reflect upon our play, we may never understand the consequences of our actions.

Placing focus upon the environment, how we develop within the ecosystem, and the consequences of our actions within that ecosystem, enables purposeful questioning through the consideration of those consequences. Learning to be compassionate and understanding of the profound impact that our lives have upon our ecosystem can only be nurtured over time. Education, in its holistic sense, places responsibility on enabling an understanding of the consequences of our actions, nurturing those who have not been afforded the opportunity to understand the implications through scaffolding learning with purposeful experiences. Therefore, being educated is not about being knowledgeable, but about the ability to process knowledge and critique actions with a critical consciousness, enabling socially just and equitable practices to result. Until we understand that our actions are causing hardship and destruction, until we recognise that they are inadvertently driving inequalities, why would we change?

Focus upon constantly becoming, not achieving.

It is interesting to understand that the notion of ‘conscious valuing’ (the internal value we place upon something) is often articulated through our language. Defining anything at a set point in time and deciding that that is its ‘forever’ definition in our minds is not mindful of development of either linear nor complexity.

Why communities need to become a focus for our institutions.

The notions of ‘living’ and ‘working’ have been separated in the modern age. ‘Live to work’ or ‘work to live’ or ‘work-life balance’ are often phrases thrown into social conversations. The idea that you live in a different place to your work is in itself divisive. It separates the two notions into a purely performative function, I ‘live’ here and work ‘there’, somehow divides the notion of work into something other than living ‘How is work going?’ or ‘How is Life?’ are not necessarily answered in the same question. But if we reflect upon what life is, a process, work is simply part of that process, not separated from it. If work is not considered as part of that process, that it somehow prevents us from being involved in life when we are working, it is clear to see how this might disengage people and be seen as something that just has to happen so that we can live.

If our connections with our environment, our wellbeing, are eroded through a misplaced notion of the purpose of work, would this not be considered as detrimental to health, to life itself. Is the value of what we do ultimately diminished if we do not feel that it is connected to the process, and therefore the development of life?

Communities are made people, if those who work in a community feel they need to leave it when ‘work’ hours are over, they are detaching themselves from that community, using it only for the purpose that suits them, typically it is the work that draws them but it also fractures the communities they are part of, through these transient behaviours.

As an education institution we aspire to build stronger community relationships through the work that we do, reaching out to our wider community, embracing and enabling a community voice while fostering and nurturing collaborative partnerships. Bring people together to work, live, share and flourish.

Inequality and social injustice can only be tackled through a holistic approach to education that encompases the whole community into the process. Not just through the learning process but all aspects of life. It is this wider inequality that we target, questioning how organisational behavioural change can work to build a more equitable society. With growing numbers of families on the cusp of a hand to mouth lifestyle, detached from the fabric of society and disengaged from the status quo, education must be reimagined and reconceptualised to meet its very purpose. Providing education for community, how we function, work and live together can only be driven through concerted effort to implement what is required, understanding that catering for these cultural, social, environmental and health needs is, in itself, an education.


Research learning network:

As part of our journey we will develop and forge a research learning community that supports and critiques the work we do and future work we need to focus upon. An organic education process, fluid in its thinking and working, will be adaptive to the needs of the community as they develop and change.


Transformation to align with community

The covid-19 pandemic has provided much insight into the need for communities to come together and support each other. Community resilience was acutely highlighted when individuals were afforded time to support each other. It was not the society structures that operated at the time of the lock downs that provided this resilience, it was newly formed structures, functions and processes that came about as a result of individuals having to isolate themselves and requiring support from the community around them.

This refound community resilience has abated as we return to the status quo, relying upon structures of old to support our daily functions. The question still remains around affording the opportunity for the entire community to access everyday services and if we are to look to bolster community resilience, should we not question those structures that so easily broke down. We find ourselves realising that the only institutions that could provide any support during this pandemic was the government and therefore by proxy, all public sector services, including, our schools. The question focus is therefore upon the critical role that our schools, and the services they offer from their facilities, can play to adapt, bolstering resilience, and mitigate, reduce the adverse impact, against the effects of climate change.

Why is community ownership integral to this?

Recent research has worked to highlight unethical and inequitable practices enabled through the out-sourcing of PE and Out-of-School-Hours (OOSH) activities operating in primary schools (Crichton, 2019; Gardiner, 2021) The outsourcing of these services meant that during the pandemic, with only key workers accessing school and as they reopened for the wider community, some of these services could not operate, as they were outside of the control of the school. The pandemic is understood to be an effect of climate change, as communities are marginalised and seek to exploit the natural resources available to them, inter-species transmission of communicable disease increases, Quote please.

The affordance of opportunity

The issue that outsourcing often fails to address is one that is rooted within community wealth; why do our institutions, set up for public service, not realise that they are simply fueling the climate crisis by enabling profit to be syphoned from operations, and therefore reduce resources that could be harness to develop those services. Gardiner’s research in 2021 leads us to question if it has yet become apparent that the procurement function within our education institutions has been untethered from the sustainability policy directives, UNSDGs, that these institutions operate by. There is a dichotomy emerging, on the one hand outsourcing, and on the other, sustainable practices and processes embedded within operational policy, statutory schooling for example is available for all in the UK but UNSDG 4; ensuring equitable education, is only currently applied as access to statutory provisions and does not assume that all organised opportunities afforded to young people are indeed part of their holistic education . In the face of the multiple crisis’s we are facing, should we not be looking at our wider functions of our institutions, their ability to act as well as say what they are doing to meet the UN SDGS.

Gardiner’s research considers the context and political environment that has enabled this outsourcing to become so prevalent and examines the outcomes that have resulted from this approach. It considers the All Party Parliamentary Group’s (For a Fit and Healthy Childhood) report in November 2020, titled, ‘The Primary PE and School Sport Premium’, (Crichton, 2020) and builds upon the questions asked around the lack of governance, due diligence and oversight of the spending of the Physical Education and School Sport funding that is allocated directly to primary schools.
This research, a case study in 2021, focuses particularly upon a research blind spot, previously not looked into: the profit generation and lack of regulation from the use of public facilities during the Out-Of-School-Hours (OOSH) period.
Gardiner reflected over a 20 year period upon the rise of the two tier education offer that has become so prevalent in mainstream primary schools and he highlights the potential root towards transformation within a case study of a school in Brighton, providing an account of how this school is now able to generate £250,000 per year from directly providing OOSH services for its community. One of the outcomes of this school's service is wrap-around childcare, but it is not the main or ultimate outcome. The school is able to implement services that enable and afford ALL children the opportunity to take part in a range of activities; ‘Play’, ‘Active’ or ‘Adventure’ during the OOSH periods; before school from 07:30 and after school until 18:00 and during school holiday periods. In addition, the school is able to enact additional support within their wider curriculum, due to their ability to harness income generated from OOSH, rather than it being syphoned into an external organisation’s profits.
The conclusion of his research has been to set up SEWN: A Sustainable Environmental Wellbeing Network. SEWN looks to ask further questions around the use of the school’s facility, questioning how this public asset could and should be used to enable greater community focussed activities, to mitigate and adapt in the face of crisis.
SEWN is now working to bring together academics, leaders in education, environmental experts, organisations and institutions to implement a change process that will support schools to enact the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through community outreach and support programmes that transform the school facility into a hub for community.


Community function:

A lack of funding along with increased performance pressures for academic output has squeezed every sinew of the schools function, leaving little head room or breathing space for consideration of anything other than statutory obligations. What has developed in this vacuum is a market driven, a product, commercial and exclusive world, inequitable and unethical.

When did the ‘What’ become more important than the ‘Why’ or the ‘How’?

The current service, the inclusive statutory school offer; 09:00 - 15:15, Monday - Friday for 39 weeks each year is not able to meet the needs of our pupils, our families or our communities. Furthermore, the opportunities afforded to children from low socioeconomic backgrounds are far diminished when compared to their counterparts. This vast difference in background cannot be addressed through our 09:00 – 15:15 service. It is the opportunities outside of this statutory provision which SEWN addresses, tackling some of the wider social inequalities within society.

A misunderstanding of education?

Covid-19 and the school closures saw many schools realising that their facilities were the only free, safe and available place for children to play. When schools did reopen, without the ability to fully offer OOSH childcare services, the knock on impact for the community was magnified. Even if parents wanted to return to full hours of work they could not rely upon the ‘childcare’ they accessed previously at the schools. Individuals were once again faced with the aged issue of affordable, accessible and appropriate childcare. When the system of schooling was asked to support operations during the pandemic, when they were called to support the essential functions of society and key workers, already stretched, juggling the need to return to work and the needs of their children, the system was unable due to its dependence upon outsourcing. As schools did what they could, already having to recreate themselves to cater for this pandemic, they were stretched beyond capacity. Private operations simply did not have the resources to operate, outsourcing has been well and truly highlighted as problematic.
If we concede that education is a function of government and of society, enabling the development of critical consciousness and understanding, therefore of socially just and equitable processes, should we not also concede that all interactions of those who have yet to become critically conscious are considered educational? What therefore is the difference between school and OOSH childcare provisions?

Why do children choose to be involved with OOSH activities and why do parents pay for those activities but not for schooling? More importantly, why do we have central funding for schooling but not OOSH? Is it that we have a system that is designed to drive further inequality simply by not affording the opportunity for all to access education?

Deconstruct, analyse, transform:

The lock down demonstrated that it is possible for us to mobilise and support each other, but it has also shone a light upon the fragility of current operations with the realisation that schools, the institution, plays a critical role for communities; the care and nurture of children, not just a place for learning but a place of support, a hub for wellbeing and an available, safe space to access .

If we are to transform, to reimagine a world that might recover from the tipping point we are heading towards, the social value; the services we can provide for communities and society, only forms part of the consideration of how we change. It is the environmental impact, the cultural erosion and the social acculturation; the actions we take, not just the words we say, that need careful attention. Philosophically, services that are both socially just, equitable and environmentally ethical, need to form the direction of transformation.
Schools and the facilities they operate from have inadvertently become drivers of social inequalities through their involvement with companies who have focussed exclusively upon certain groups over others while looking to generate profit from those who access these private services.

Do all services understand the implications of individualism? Do any? Have we not seen the impact yet? Has it not been realised that individual wealth and a focus upon capitalist gains is the one thing that has led us to this crisis point? I need more, to do more, to be more, must be challenged with a question of why? Why does an individual gain need to happen if it is at the cost of everything else?

MultiKite theory, Gardiner 2021, can be used here to examine the consequence of individual performance when it is not for greater good, when it is neither equitable nor just. If you consider the kite, flying high, without its connection with others around it, what is its purpose other than to itself? What is its purpose when it has become detached from all others, from the environment it operates? Does it recognise the balance of its gain compared to the needs of others? Does it change when others around it fall? Does it recognise that if its flight is the cause of others to fall, its purpose has become destructive?

My question is philosophical and underpins our purpose. Has a focus upon individualism, upon the performance of the kite, removed all notion of our imbrication within the fabric of life and has this ultimately negatively impacted our wellbeing, as our tethers have been torn from that fabric?

We have a choice to make; do we keep ploughing forwards or, now that we realise that it could be different, do we act like our house is on fire and start to radically transform, providing hope for the future and ensuring that when our future generations ask what we did to adapt and mitigate, we can say that we did everything possible.

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MulitKite theory

Why is OOSH so important?

All children need to be afforded the opportunity to be involved in enrichment activities. Not only do these involvements enable further socialistion for participants, they enhance a sense of belonging, develop confidence, cater for passion, agency, self-efficacy, channel creativity and nurture curiosity and a critical consciousness. The idea that schools are able to cater for this entirety within their current pressures is a far-fetched notion with poor operational consideration, stemming from the introduction of the extended schools initiative of 2003.

If we are to adapt and mitigate to meet the needs of children and communities, our duty of care must consider that they are imbricated within the environment, not separate entities, we need to support communities' understanding of the principles of equity and justice through the provision of the best possible education. We therefore need to look at the community as a whole, and how each facet operates and interacts with each other, as a process, not as a system. We need to also take a holistic view of the child, not just as a pupil who attends school.

We understand that not all children have the same opportunities afforded to them and yet we are failing to look at, let alone address these variations. Our duty of care as professionals, tasked with governing the education afforded to pupils, is to provide all that we can to support their holistic development. When we consider that safe and creative spaces for our most vulnerable young people are havens, away from hardship, abuse, and criminality, we must ask how we reshape our facilities to accommodate and address these much wider social inequalities.

It is reasonably practical to look at changing the way in which services are offered to children. The system, in its rigidity, simply fails to cater for the changing demands society burdens upon children, families and communities.

It is this failure which could lead to questioning the capability of a sector to provide the service which it sets out to offer, education. Schools are not given the flexibility they need, they are scrutinised to the limit of their existence, and they are not funded sufficiently to implement what they are being limited to do.

Disenfranchised by this narrow view of education; that it is just about learning certain things at certain times, opinions of our institutions form. These bastions of community, enabled with purpose to support and enrich young people, have simply been cut off from the community they serve, ultimately an emphasis upon performance and profit has driven their purpose and value further from the needs of the community. The messaging being portrayed through the OOSH operational practises, the social acculturation, is simply reinforcing the notion that if you can neither afford or perform you cannot access these opportunities during these formative years; the OOSH period, the weekends and the school holidays, the school facilities and, therefore the institution is focussed upon exclusive groups, not for all. Individualism over collectivism is therefore the perceived value our institutions are eliciting.

If we take Gardiner’s (2021) Mutli-Kite Theory and consider the performance of the Kite, objectively measured by the system, enabled to fly higher during OOSH operations because it had already reached a certain performance, we have a system that is driving the education attainment gap, not narrowing it. Ofsted clearly state that schools with greater involvement of children within enrichment activities are among the highest achieving, unsurprisingly these are some of the more affluent areas, where OOSH providers operate because they can see opportunities for business, whereas in areas of lower socioeconomic status, schools achieve lower standards.

The cultural capital afforded to professionals and decision makers must not cloud judgements of what and how we should act, education is not predicated by individual belief systems but ultimately considers the ability to ask why we place energy in the directions we do. The value ascertained by that focus can only be intrinsically guided, therefore a philosophical question of why, needs to focus upon the wider implications and values of our actions. Focus needs to be placed upon addressing inequalities and this is not a question of individual belief, it is a question of doing everything possible to support levelling up, using available resources, ensuring that all young people are afforded the opportunity to understand that connection to community and environment nurtures wellbeing, that our institutions listen to the voice of those who have been disaffected or disenfranchised, and act to change, to transform, to reconnect those with a purpose and value that is much deeper than individual achievement.

This is a failure of process, it has led to a widening divide between those who can afford and those who cannot. Our state education sector has caved to pressures to provide ‘business activities’ within publicly funded buildings. It is this difference in philosophy which drives the divide. On the one hand we have the school, offering a service for all, publically funded so that each pupil is able to access, while at the same time, in the same facility we have an array of activities offered exclusively by market forces.

The ultimate failure of the system is with its inability to reach out to the community and voice not just what they are doing but how and why. It was clear during the pandemic and as worksheets were sent home for children to undertake as ‘home learning’ there was no theoretical framework or pedagogical underpinning of the worksheets. The question that we are now facing, one which I would argue is both incredibly dangerous and destructive, is why do we need educators?

Without a deep understanding of the complexities of the learning process, how is it possible for a non pedagogically trained member of the public to pick up a worksheet and support a developing child to understand it? If this is simply what schools are thought to be, a place to instil subject knowledge, we have a huge misunderstanding of the purpose of educators.

The art of teaching is not to understand facts or to have certain types of knowledge or skill. A teaching degree is an art degree, the art is of the understanding of how to nurture a love of learning, of curiosity, of critical a critical consciousness, to support, to structure and to scaffold, to afford the opportunity for each individual to develop through each miniscule step of each learning journey, at their own individual pace. It is this art form that recognises the process of learning, of how it occurs and the barriers that are placed at each hurdle. It is this understanding of nurture that recognises progress, not compared to others, but over time, knowing and affording that time and space for those individuals to grow, to educate themselves in life and it complexities, recognising that the why and the how are more important than the what.

Transformation for community wealth:

Schools enable community wealth, they afford all children access to statutory education, but the school facilities, particularly in primary schools, are now being used to generate individual wealth or exclusive wealth. This is in two forms, one is profit; the providers are, through their incorporation, able to turn surplus into profit, as a dividend for their shareholders. Secondly, the wealth created is focused upon exclusive groups, those who attend the activities and, as demonstrated earlier, the price point is often a barrier for attendance, this simply increases the cultural capital of those who are afforded the opportunity to attend.

Services offered could be considered in much the same way as school trips; afforded to everyone, knowing that some might not be able to pay the full cost and that shortfall is then paid for by the school. In this vein and to speak to an equitable process, all OOSH services therefore need to enable parents the option to access childcare tax allowance, to enable up to 80% of the cost to be reclaimed. The offer of service then becomes accessible, even if it is not taken up, it could be accessed.

If some operations are registered and some are not, as is the situation in many schools, further divides are driven as parents who need to access the ‘childcare’ service, have little option but to use it. It is often the specific enriching activities that do not register with Ofsted and therefore, can not be used as ‘childcare’.

Equity through transformation:

In order to operate as a service for pupils, parents and the community for the whole year the entirety of operations from these public facilities needs to consider the community wealth potential, opposed to the individual opportunity. The objective is therefore to roll out a programme that will enable consistency with relation to equitable and socially just access to services during all OOSH operations through research based learning throughout our education institutions. Schools, our bastions of communities, are the key to tackling some of the wider social inequalities and injustices we see within communities but only if we realise the full potential for the facility to provide services that enable resilience. Schools have just a 7% influence over the outcome of academic achievements (Evans and Penny 2007) but they are critical for developing a sense of holistic wellbeing. Knowledge dissemination and transmission is a focal point for transformation but it is through the process of social acculturation, the practices and processes we apply to this transmission, that is key.

What we do, not what we say is forming the way that young people think about the world. Outsourcing food, tech, PE and out-of-school-hours services have become prevalent as procurement becomes an increasing focus within the public sector, and yet, the institutions outsourcing are also the ones charged with enabling and affording the development of a critical consciousness. Critical theory, challenging oppressive power structures; forms of discriminatory practice, social injustice and inequalities, becomes especially poignant here. Outsourcing services to profit companies ultimately, as we have previously mentioned, focuses resources towards individuals opposed to community wealth. This drives further inequalities as the distribution of wealth is moved from the service to the shareholder. Companies working in our schools are generating profit (money syphond out of the company to shareholders) and it has not yet been realised that the procurement of services or the hiring out of facilities is enabling this inequality. The race to the bottom for procuring services often neglects the consideration of value, other than monetary, of the services being procured. If the lowest price secures the service has anyone ever considered that the quality might be diminished? The shareholders will not want to lose their slice of the pie and therefore the service itself becomes squeezed, less staff, reduced standards, less management, leaner process, less due diligence etc etc.

This is exactly what happens as local authority services are squeezed, budgets constantly eroded and budget managers consistently working to demonstrate that they need all their budget, spending frivolously at the end of the financial year, in fear that it will be reduced the following year. This financial management style is not only wasteful but never affords the opportunity for the school to operate as the independent financial institution they are supposed to be. One of the perceived ways out of this mess, and the sinik asks if this has been designed, is through academisation.


Prior to this transformation, a process of analysis needs to be conducted.
Operational circles need to be set in place and various information needs to be gathered about the current operations during OOSH on a site by site basis.

One of the major concerns to address is one of capacity and it is intended that the CIC will be able to ensure that additional capacity will be afforded to each school we partner with.

The initial information required to be collated is as follows:

What is the full extent of the offer of services enabled at each school currently, at what is the potential capacity;
What do each of the providers generate and supply?
How many staff would be considered within a TUPE process or direct employment to the social enterprise? Are there any economic, technical or organisational considerations that will impact TUPE?
What is the current commitment to supply staff cover, external services and contracts?
It would be intended that these can all come in-house, under the remit of the social enterprise work. The social enterprise will ensure that the necessary resources are allocated to cater for demand across the network of schools.


The members of SEWN advocate this transformation process for school facilities, it aligns equitable and socially just services with the development of community wealth, while underpinned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Transforming community schooling through Community Ownership models;

The success rates of community owned organisations speaks for itself. Communities, when they have vested interest, when they have a stake and a voice are stronger and more resilient. A Community Owned MAT (COMAT), incorporating a voice that represents the entire community is as much about community wealth building as it is about individual agency that can demonstrate an interconnectedness and entangled relationship with community and the environment.

Operating a COMAT will mitigate against any perception of public assets being transferred to private ownership, while also ensuring that broad community governance enables transparency and accountability, protecting the functions that are valued while transforming the potential operational capacity.

The current education system and, for the majority, Local Authorities have not been afforded the opportunity to develop their capacity to support communities with everyday life, and everyday functions. The severity to trigger any intervention has risen as funding and capacity falls. Perpetuating a status quo is a choice, it does not need to continue in the same vein once consideration is taken of what social enterprise might achieve through the development of services from our existing public assets.

What does this transformation look like:

The COMAT will become an integral part of organisations like Future Folk Sussex (Mutual Home Ownership Society) and Education Health and Wellbeing CIC. Both of these organisations' visions and values are aligned to a community focus but underpinned with a commitment to environmental sustainability through ethically just and socially equitable practices.

Both Future Folk Sussex and Education Health & Wellbeing CIC have collective community support and are developing links with local institutions and organisations.

The COMAT is as much a vehicle for successful operation as it is a structure for support. Its trustees are from a broad spectrum of community organisations.

The COMAT will bring all HR and Finance functions to a central location, providing support for all community academies through a team of HR and finance professionals.

The main concern the COMAT has with the continuing push for academisation is one of governance, accountability and transparency. The COMAT will continue to support Head teachers to operate their academy site and will provide additional management planning and operational support as and when identified by each Head Teachers.

The offer that a Community focused MAT will enable for schools is one of flexibility whilst ensuring that broader community services are enabled from each of the school facilities. These additional services will be enabled through additional employments, directly by the COMAT, bringing additional staff into the academies to reduce workload and provide additional support for students, professionals and the community.

The services the CoMAT will offer are as follows:

Full wrap around enriching, childcare provided for 50 weeks of the year.;
Youth club operations each evening at each site;
Community restaurant linked with food hub and food producers;
Climate aware and environmental curriculum focus;
Programme director for nature and biodiversity;
Programme director for sustainability and behaviour change;
Asset management linked with future folk mutual home ownership, providing affordable homes;
Therapeutic and trauma informed practitioners and continuous training and qualifications for all staff;
Medical training emergency response and GP emergency access;
Full HR central support services along with CPD package for school leaders;
Integrated software systems that are tailored to needs, linking seamlessly to reporting functions with LA, DfE, HSE and alike through API;
Operate programmes that are linked to not-for-profit industries that are focussed upon sustainable practices opposed to unethical and destructive ones;
Collectively purchase goods and services for the community;
Develop programmes that have direct routes through to employment through enterprise development.
Sociocracy and consent based decision training for all students and professionals, enabling decisions that enrich and engage young people within the democratic learning process;
Development of legal understanding through art, embedded into creative curriculum, that enables students to explore legal policy, social justice and equality;
Access to First Aid, mental First Aid, Emergency response and incident management training for all staff;

Each of these operational elements enables resilience through a circular economy. Schools could enable a range of not-for-profit elements that they link with.








The vision of social enterprise to operate community services from community buildings



All schools facilities need to be afforded the opportunity to enable:

Breakfast, after-school, evening, weekend and school holiday activities; services that are considerate of parents working requirements while enriching for those who attend. Enabling children space to play and enrich their lives while supporting a community through programmes that tackle wider inequalities.
Youth club spaces: Hang out places that are safe and resourced.
Community canteen: bringing community in to eat together during the evening

Operating these services across multiple school sites can only become viable if they are considered as one service, education. If this is enacted on a school by school basis, we will inevitably see the schools with the most affluent demographic being afforded greater opportunity for income generation and service development. A postcode lottery is neither equitable nor socially just and, in this time of climate crisis, every attempt should be made to ensure that all children across the entire area are afforded the same opportunities as they are during statutory schooling, access.

An area wide programme would enable children, no matter which school they attend, to participate in enrichment activities that support agency and self-efficacy through developmentally appropriate activities that nurture a critical consciousness.
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