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Thursday, June 16, 2011

School of Sense?

The highly regarded and forward thinking Everton charity  "Everton in the Community", who recently won a highly coveted stadium business award in Barcelona, has submitted an expression of interest to the Department of Education to establish a new Free School that will be open to pupils of all educational abilities.

Delegations from Everton, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have all held talks with Education Secretary Michael Gove over establishing free schools, aimed at raising the standards of education, which the coalition government are promoting in place of the now scrapped £55bn “Building Schools for the Future” initiative which led to the cancellation of 700 schools' building projects involving rebuilding or refurbishment at every school in the country.

As a result of the cancellation six councils resorted to the high court claiming that the cancellation of the school building projects had been "arbitrary and legally flawed". Mr Justice Holman, a high court judge, said the action, by the Secretary of State, over the scrapping of the “Building Schools for the Future” initiative had been "so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power" and that the education secretary had acted unlawfully in failing to consult local authorities over the decision and had broken the law by failing to give "due regard" to equality legislation.

Many education observers in the industry are sceptical of Michael Gove's target of 700 Free Schools and claim it is little more than a sham. The current window, to submit an application to open a mainstream or 16-19 Free School, has now closed; only eight Free Schools, planned to open by September 2012 or beyond, that were in the business case and plan stage, have been invited to apply through the new application process.

Of the three premiership clubs, expressing an interest, Tottenham’s plans are linked to their proposed  56,000 seat stadium development at Northumberland Park, next to the club’s current home at White Hart Lane, whilst Manchester City’s plans, regarding the total redevelopment of the area surrounding the council owned Eastland’s stadium and the establishment of a sports village, are widely known. Everton are yet to finalise their plans for the redevelopment of Goodison Park or a new stadium.

The recently adopted North Liverpool Strategic Redevelopment Framework [SRF] document highlighted the fact that football clubs are identified as key drivers to the local economy; KEIOC firmly believes this should also extend to education, on both an academic and sports level, and have long since promoted this as a corner stone of the proposed Football Quarter concept along with recreational, leisure and community facilities as can be seen here.

Dr. Denise Barrett-Baxendale, chief executive of Everton in the Community, said, "We wish to engage students with a new innovative approach to educational provision backed by the brand and values of Everton Football Club, which are already firmly embedded within our community scheme."

Enhancing the lives of local communities, Everton in the Community are a pioneering organisation that compliments other innovative and world recognised initiatives run by the club including the Former Players Foundation and the Everton Collection.

Further information on the Free Schools, including already established educational links by clubs such as Watford, Bristol City and Reading can be seen here.

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