Did You Know?

  • Co-op stores were the first supermarket chain to stock and sell Fair Trade produce?
  • The Co-op Bank, CIS and Smile internet bank all have strict ethical investment policies?
  • New Lanark is a living link with the birth of the Co-operative Movement in Scotland? With its own education officer, New Lanark offers a wide range of interesting tours, suitable for school visits.

Inspiring co-operative enterprise through education

Co-operative Approach

The Co-operative Movement

CETS works with the wider co-operative movement to develop awareness of the benefits of co-operation. The co-operative movement in Britain was established in 1844, when the early pioneers came together to provide affordable services on a co-operative basis for their members. Interestingly, Scotland has its own claim to having one of the first co-operatives. The Fenwick Weavers were established in 1761 in Fenwick, a small village in East Ayrshire. There is still debate relating to the validity of the Fenwick Weavers claim to being the first co-operative enterprise in the world.

Today, the Co-operative Sector extends from banking, food-stores and agriculture, through to credit unions, housing and workers co-ops. The co-operative movement is described in detail in our latest resource.

The International Community

CETS is not just part of the co-operative movement in Britain. World-wide, there are estimated to be over 800 million people whose lives are associated with co-operatives. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is the umbrella group for co-operatives across the world, and is based in Switzerland. The ICA is the largest NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) in the world.

Values and Principles

All co-operatives are governed by an internationally agreed set of values and principles.


  • Self-help - co-operatives help people to help themselves.
  • Self-responsibility - co-operatives take responsibility for, and answer to, their actions.
  • Democracy - members have an equal say in the way the co-operative is run.
  • Equality - no matter how much money a member invests in the co-operative, they still have one vote.
  • Equity - co-operatives operate in a fair and unbiased manner.
  • Solidarity - co-operatives share interests and common purposes with their members and other co-operatives.
Most co-operatives adopt the following ethical values as well:
  • Openness
  • Honesty
  • Social responsibility
  • Caring for others


The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
  • Voluntary and open membership - membership is open to everyone.
  • Democratic member control - all members have an equal voice in making policies and electing representatives.
  • Member economic participation - all profits are controlled democratically by members and for their benefit.
  • Autonomy and independence - co-operatives are always independent, even when they enter into agreements with the Government and other organisations.
  • Education, training and information - co-operatives educate and develop their members as well as their staff.
  • Co-operation amongst co-operatives - co-operatives work together with other co operatives to strengthen the co-operative movement as a whole.
  • Concern for community - co-operatives also work to improve and develop the community, both locally and internationally.
CETS provide a wide range of resources and support for those interested in exploring the benefits of the co-operative approach within all aspects of education.