AN ex-circus performer who taught singer Amy Winehouse today pledged to make Everton’s FC new school a hit.
Adrian Packer, newly installed principal of Everton Free School, made the pledge as the novel venture received final government financial backing and approval to open.
From September, 120 14 to 19-year-olds who found mainstream school was not for them will undertake a range of GCSE and BTEC courses at the school being opened by Blues’ charity Everton in the Community.
For the first year it will be based in Liverpool Community College’s Learning Exchange on Roscoe Street before moving to its own site – possibly in north Liverpool.
Free schools set their own curriculum and terms and conditions.
Opposition group Evertonians Against Free Schools – which has attracted 44 “likes” on social networking site Facebook, has voiced fears including that unqualified staff will be hired at the school.
But today Mr Packer stressed “every member of staff is qualified” and their terms would be in line or better than at other schools – with teachers even receiving Everton FC season tickets.
As well as offering core subjects such as maths, science and English it will offer hands-on “authentic learning” to engage students and give them an edge in the job market.
This will range from mastering digital technology to accredited placements at Goodison Park ranging from working with caterers to security officials.
Mr Packer’s colourful CV includes 13 years at Croydon-based performing arts college the BRIT school which included teaching singers Amy Winehouse and Jessie J.
Struggling to adapt to the “day-to-day routines” of mainstream school Mr Packer opted to join a Mexican circus as a dancer aged 18 before getting his first teaching job at an adult education centre in the country.
On leading the Everton free school he said: “A lot of the young people we attract to this school will have lost their way perhaps and the idea of giving them a route and seeing them in five years’ time working with a small business that supports this football club and the idea that we are generating high quality opportunity is something that I really want us to be able to achieve.”
Everton FC revealed 90% of responses during consultation were supportive of the school which, backed by Liverpool council, will work closely with existing city education providers, employers and partners.