Last summer we were promised that the Everton Free School would be a 'landmark school' for 'the most challenged and deserving young people in our City'. The school was meant to educate 120 pupils, two thirds of them aged under 16.
So what is the reality? The Everton Free School is on the third floor of the Liverpool Community College's Learning Exchange in Roscoe Street. The facilities? One small office and two bog-standard classrooms – that is the 'landmark' Everton Free School.
The Everton Free School are refusing to divulge any figures, But sources within Everton FC have informed us that only THREE children were enrolled at the start of the school year. This immediately raises questions about the long-term financial viability of the school. Also if you were aiming to educate 120 children why have one office and two classrooms? Is there any room for expansion in the Liverpool Community College?
The pupils from the Everton Free School don't appear to have any separate facilities for toilets or catering, let alone a playground or fields.
Pupils will spend some time at Finch Farm (the Everton Training Ground) and at Goodison Park, however, this will involve taking substantial travel time from out of the school day.
Salaries at the Everton Free School are considerably below those in state schools, Learning Mentor jobs were advertised 'from ₤12,000' and teachers' jobs did not mention special payments that are commonly granted in special schools or Pupil Referral Units (PRUs). This will inevitably mean a high staff turnover.
As for the Principal Adrian Packer, the school are still refusing to reveal his salary. A common feature of free schools are the six-figure salaries for headteachers and principals.
Free Schools are a discredited Tory initiative, already this term the 'One in a million' Free School, sponsored by Bradford City FC, hasn't even opened. How many children are enrolled in the Everton Free School? Is it financially viable?
Sadly whenever questions are raised we are accused of being 'aggressive' or 'intimidating'. If you refuse to answer questions and exclude people from visiting the Everton Free School it does raise the question what have you got to hide? Three pupils, one small office and two classrooms?