A group of small Cornish primary schools have joined forces to help ensure their collective survival and success by adopting a team approach.
Pensilva, Coads Green, Delaware, Upton Cross and Gunnislake this week launched Caradon Co-operative Education Trust to enable the five schools to share resources, efficiencies and good ideas.
The move is in response to changes in national education funding which many, including Cornwall Council, see as a threat to schools with fewer than 120 pupils.
Debbie Stoneman, clerk to the steering committee that helped set up the new trust, said: "The new schools funding formula removes the protection small rural schools had previously, so it now seems certain that schools like ours will have only 60% of their 2010 budget come 2017.
"We've had to act to ensure that our schools remain at the heart of their communities.
"But establishing Caradon Co-operative Education Trust is about more than survival. By linking together we can improve the learning we offer our children – and that's the key thing.
"From opportunities for visits and driving down costs of computer equipment to saving money on paper and easing pupils' transition to secondary learning, we can improve the education we offer," said Mrs Stoneman.
"Given that all our members already aspire to and achieve the very highest standards, that's a very exciting proposition."
Several co-operatives have been established in Cornwall as a response to changes in education policy, from Helston and The Lizard to Liskeard, Torpoint and Camelford. They have been helped by the Co-operative College, the education wing of the Co-op familiar to all. Caradon Co-operative Education Trust has a governing body made up of representatives from all schools and is accountable to staff, parents and pupils.
"The overriding and burning ambition is to involve an entire community and as many of our local primary schools as possible in delivering the very best deal we can come up with together for our children," added Mrs Stoneman.