A row of young girls at school

Story of a Trust School – Upper Shirley High

Upper Shirley High School in Southampton, which became a co-operative trust school in April 2009, underwent a radical transformation from being a boys' school in Special Measures to a popular co-educational school after new principal Cassie Ellins embraced the trust model.


Ofsted describes Upper Shirley’s 600 students as “diverse” with “higher than average student numbers who speak English as an additional language. It also has a higher than average proportion of students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.”

The school was placed Special Measures in 2005, with the local community disengaged from the school and student admissions falling from 140 to 80.

Raising standards

The school was removed from Special Measures after three terms, and was oversubscribed in 2008, when Ofsted rated the extent to which learners make a positive contribution to the community as outstanding. The school’s GCSE results in 2008 showed an increase in 5 A*-C from 31% in 2007 to 51% in 2008.

Local partnerships

The Upper Shirley Learning Community has used the co-operative ‘trust’ mechanism to cement partnerships with local infant and junior schools, a sixth form college and a local special school.

Cassie Ellins, Principal, commented:

“A co-operative trust allows a more formal mechanism for consultation and engagement driven by the co-operative values but centred in the community. This will assist the school in continuing to raise standards and is vital for the planned rebuild of the school under the Building Schools for Future programme. The new Upper Shirley High really will be at the heart of our community.”

Richard Nicholls of Virtual Schools described becoming a co-operative schools trust as “the perfect extension to the vision and ethos that has been built up over the years”, whilst Chair of Governors John Green stated:

“The whole governing body unanimously backed the move to co-operative trust status because of the alignment with our own values.”


Co-operative College

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