Everton 'school of science' offers salvation from school of hard knocks

Sunday, 25 June, 2017 21comments  |  Jump to most recent
At any one time in Merseyside there are up to 600 youngsters permanently excluded from school. Disruptive, disturbed, disillusioned: there are many reasons why they drift out of the system.

Now, thanks to the auspices of one of the area's Premier League clubs, as many as 150 of them are being given an opportunity to re-connect with education at the Everton Free School.

» Read the full article at The Telegraph

Reader Comments (21)

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Thomas Lennon
1 Posted 25/06/2017 at 09:28:16
Proud to be an Evertonian.
Neil Wood
2 Posted 25/06/2017 at 09:50:41
I echo that, Thomas.
Tony Hill
3 Posted 25/06/2017 at 10:15:06
This is excellent. I've been critical of EitC in the past as a distraction from Everton's main business on the pitch but that was very wrong. What is particularly impressive is that the charity is so precise and brave in what it does and it makes serious changes to people's lives. I've also been dismissive of Denise Barrett-Baxendale but she's doing powerful work here, very powerful.

The attitude of the head teacher is inspirational, especially in the times we're going through.

Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 25/06/2017 at 10:28:27
It seems to me that EitC is about giving everyone a second chance, which is really heartwarming to me!
Mike Gaynes
5 Posted 25/06/2017 at 15:23:43
Tony, well said.

I've donated to EitC, and this article is one reason why I believe we should all consider supporting the organization. They make us proud.

Will Mabon
6 Posted 25/06/2017 at 15:31:06
I'm sticking to my usual stance. It's praiseworthy that there are people and organizations willing to do this. It's disgraceful that they have to.
Michael Penley
7 Posted 25/06/2017 at 15:38:03
I'm a bit confused by our great club sometimes. Is the plan for Everton Free School to get kids an education and earning money, only for SportPesa to get them hooked on gambling and to lose what they've earned?
Will Mabon
8 Posted 25/06/2017 at 15:44:01
Michael, no, but that cynical lateral thinking is always a good tool to have in the box!
Tom Magill
9 Posted 25/06/2017 at 16:12:03
Well done, EitC – you make us so proud to be Toffees, keep up the amazing work.
Thomas Lennon
10 Posted 25/06/2017 at 16:15:06
It is more important than that, Michael. These lads and lasses have become isolated and detached from a happy life with no hope. Turning that around is incredibly difficult without taking them away from the damaging environment.

If EITC has found an answer for some and cares enough to get involved then they are doing extraordinary work. People's lives have been changed for the better; I hope this model is studied and replicated everywhere.

Chris Williams
11 Posted 25/06/2017 at 16:26:00
A good thing to do and important in Walton these days.
Dennis Stevens
12 Posted 25/06/2017 at 16:43:47
I know some have an ideological opposition to Free Schools, but I'm all in favour of EITC using the tools available to continue what seems to be an ever-expanding range of superb social programmes. Quite rightly, they've sought to bring a new provision that wasn't there before – picking up those kids who'd run out of options.

This work is so important to the lives of a great many people, but also important to help maintain the soul of the Club. These are the activities that help maintain a link between the surreality of the Premier League & the real world the rest of us inhabit – in some cases, a bit too real for comfort!

Jay Wood
13 Posted 25/06/2017 at 17:12:13
The issue of free schools is quite a thorny one. Ask Richard Knights, the (former) Everton season ticket holder who had his ST withdrawn and a ban placed on him from Everton installations due to his opposition to the club's free school.

It possibly has more to do with political ideology than as another brick in the edifice of national educational curriculum.

Their introduction has been questioned and challenged as being unnecessary, too costly and as drawing much needed funds from mainstream education which continues to face crippling budget cuts.

There is some legitimacy in that view. That said, as the linked Telegraph report notes, the Everton free school is aimed at a particular 'clientele' - particularly disruptive students that the 'system' has given up on. In that regard, the Everton Free School appears to be giving a good number of marginalised kids a genuine 'second chance' in life.

Whilst there is a core curriculum all are expected to follow (English and maths being compulsory), the school can be more flexible in what skills they offer individual students than their mainstream counterparts.

As the report mentions, they arranged a boxing trainer and even a DJ for individual students who showed an interest in those pursuits. Another showed a previously unknown interest in gardening and now is on the cusp of being taken on full-time with the club's ground staff team.

And to (possibly) correct Will Mahon whose post implies free schools are somehow run as charities or volunteers to cover the shortfall of the Government investment in social infrastructure, they are in fact funded by the Government, but not administered by the Local Education Authority as mainstream schools are.

The club and EitC, led by the admirable Denise Barrett-Baxendale, are of course closely associated with the school. Nothing wrong with that, IMO. EitC do sterling work, are established and have an excellent reputation for their efforts in the community and can offer much expertise and insight into the Everton free school's target clientele.

I personally wouldn't offer a ringing endorsement of the Government's ideology with regard to free schools and I had some disquiet when Everton launched one. However, on balance, it appears the school bearing Everton's name IS doing sterling, much-needed work, in the city.

Yet another example to be proud of Everton's (bizarrely, to me) sometimes much-maligned EitC initiatives.

Michael Penley
14 Posted 25/06/2017 at 17:20:06
Thomas Lennon #10 I have no issues with free schools, but it's surely not that simple. The young apprentice groundskeeper the article talks about - what happens to the other potential apprentice whose position he has taken? Could it be that, where one kid is provided with hope, another is deprived of it? After all, there are only so many jobs, apprenticeships, university places.

We're pretending that the world out there is not competitive, that the supply of 'hope' is infinite. It would be nice if that were true. Only by tackling the "winner takes all" system of our society can we really attack the problem of disenfranchised youth.

Will Mabon
15 Posted 25/06/2017 at 18:31:45
Jay, I'm aware of the funding aspects of the system. There is still the charitable input of people and organizations from outside of government. There is unending media activity being delivered to blur the lines between this, and what is and has always previously been, within the realm of the state. The constant, sometimes tacit implication that there's "No money" available from government. Tacit, when it's not being shouted.

The same is true in many areas – "Partnering" with the private sector being another so-called "Solution", now long established. Usually manifest as contracting outfits doing previously in-house tasks at "Competitive" rates, which equals small profits out of the difference between their minimum-wage employees and the previous "Cost" of the civil service. The cost that at one time suddenly became re-badged as "Enormous". Now they want free input from people. Charity and people's time. They're advertising the hell out of it.

"...from mainstream education which continues to face crippling budget cuts."

You're right, along with just about every budgetary area – and to this I say, and not to you personally: Why? Why? Where is the money?

One of the most taxed nations in the world, one of the most hard-working populations in the developed world, augmented supposedly by bringing in extra millions of people that "Add to the economy" (and hence taxation and efficiency, surely?) and yet...

Stan Schofield
16 Posted 25/06/2017 at 19:10:05
It's unclear to me how effective this free school is or will prove to be. It's okay up to a point picking some individual success cases, but whether they reflect the bigger picture remains to be seen.

In principle, free schools should be unnecessary. They exist because of the shortcomings in more traditional schools, and those shortcomings reflect the usual mismanagement and bullshit of government, who have consistently chopped and changed the education system for decades, to no great positive effect.

Rather than the government introducing these schools, it would have been better if they had looked properly (rationally for a change) at shortcomings in the traditional model. But of course they didn't, and probably won't.

So, the jury is out for me. But best of luck to those individuals who gain from it.

Thomas Lennon
17 Posted 25/06/2017 at 19:55:37
Remarkable. While several regurgitate political dogma, you ignore what the problems are and what causes them. You think this is about free schools? No. Is this about ensuring young people fit in to a capitalist society so as to enable the system to exploit them? No.

This is about kids who have suffered physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse and consequently push away all of the society that hurts them. While left and right wing activists & politicians score political points and point to a future Utopia, these kids are living miserable lives, many anaesthetised by drugs, prescription and otherwise. They cannot help themselves, they were not put where they are by systems or politics, they were put there by the many faults that lie within all of us as human beings. They were given a shitty hand in the poker game of Life and keep getting jokers.

If EitC can help some of those people using whatever tools come to hand then good on them. Yes, someone else should care but all too many are content to call these kids 'bad'. The alternative for the majority has all too often been suicide, early death or prison.

Stan Schofield
18 Posted 25/06/2017 at 20:28:00
Thomas, correct, there's a big problem that needs to be solved or at least minimised. Whether free schools provide a significant contribution is debatable.

There are deep rooted problems, that governments need to think and be proactive about, rather than react all the time as they do. Their usual 5-minute fixes.

Will Mabon
19 Posted 26/06/2017 at 04:45:31

There is a multi-tiered system of levels behind the way things work. Posting about the governmental and political levels is not actively ignoring the youngsters' plight. Did you ignore the political angle to post about the young people? There's plenty of room for everyone's opinion.

"You think this is about free schools?"

Yes. Everton Free School is mentioned and discussed in the linked article.

Thomas Lennon
20 Posted 26/06/2017 at 20:23:52
In the situations I have described, what could a government do? There are no big solutions and certainly not enough public money to afford what would need to be done. Find something that the kids will accept that is non-authoritative and has the commitment and talent to make a difference at a local, one-on-one level – there are few options.

You might say politics is part of the problem, not the solution. Free schools are just a tool; Everton are providing a solution.

Stan Schofield
21 Posted 26/06/2017 at 23:00:22
Thomas, as you say, free schools are just a tool, and if that tool provides solutions, good. But even if they are a success, that doesn't detract from the fundamental problems for which governments do have responsibility.

Your second sentence is just an assertion, one that lets politicians off the hook.

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