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Complainant Name:
Richard Knights

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Liverpool Echo


Richard Knights complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had published an opinion piece which contained a number of inaccuracies regarding a proposal to set up a Free School in Everton. He considered that Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code had been breached.


The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant:

Free Speech

In his Royal Blue column (ECHO, June 30), Greg O'Keeffe suggested cynicism was at the heart of objections to the Everton Free School scheme. Here are some questions he might like to investigate.

1) Why is a football club trying to run a school and is Everton FC a good business model?
2) Who are the Place Group (the 'project directors' for the Free School)?
3) How can they appoint experienced staff? The school opens in September and staff have to give a term's notice.
4) What will be the staffing levels for the 120 children they propose to teach? How many will be qualified teachers? "Free" schools do not have to employ any qualified teachers.
5) If the Everton Free School recruits 200 children in three years' time how many jobs will be lost from pupil referral units and special schools?

Applications for the free school have now closed. The post of Learning Mentor stated a salary from £12,000; that's £5,000 below the normal rate for this post. Teaching jobs stated "Main Pay Scale". In other words, the Upper Pay Spine that would attract experienced teachers wasn't offered. Also, many teaching posts in special schools or pupil referral units attract special payments due to the stressful nature of the job - something else that didn't appear. By contrast, Everton Free School are still refusing to reveal the salary of the Principal, Adrian Packer. I wonder why.

Richard Knights
Evertonians Against Free Schools

Date Published: 14/09/2012

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