The National Union of Teachers (NUT) have slammed the “reckless” pursuit of Putteridge High School to become a Barnfield Academy.
The Luton branch of the NUT said today that they welcome the decision made by the headteacher and governing body on Friday to withdraw from converting .
They said they have always had “deep misgivings” about any association with the Barnfield Federation, which is currently being investigated by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Skills Funding Agency (SfA).
A Luton NUT spokesperson said: “The NUT have always advised the headteacher against pursuing this course of action as we do not believe that academies improve the standard of education and also due to our deep misgivings about any association with the Barnfield Federation.
“In light of the recent investigations surrounding the Barnfield Federation, our views have been entirely justified.
“The headteacher has pursued an expensive marketing campaign to convert Putteridge High School into ‘Barnfield East Academy’ despite not having a final agreement in place from the DfE. This has included parents buying new uniform with the Barnfield logo, which will now need to be replaced.
“We believe that the school has been reckless in the pursuit to become a Barnfield Academy and parents and taxpayers have been left to pick up the bill.”
The conversion was due to take place on September 1 this year but the DfE halted the process after the SfA instigated an investigation into concerns about financial management and governance at Barnfield College.
Chair of governors Bill Pollard said the governors did not want to see the good reputation of the school, which is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, jeopardised.
He said: “The delay to the conversion process over the last eight months has led to frustration and uncertainty, and the governors felt that under the circumstances of the investigation it was no longer acceptable to align Putteridge High School with the Barnfield Federation.”
Headteacher Helen Beauchamp said securing funding for a rebuilding programme following the withdrawal of Building Schools for the Future funding in 2010 was one of the primary aims of their conversion to academy status.
She said: “The governors and I will continue to work with the local authority, the DfE and the Education Funding Agency to enable us to achieve this goal. The academy order was approved by the DfE earlier this year and the governors have been informed that it remains supportive of our aims.”
Barnfield Federation CEO, Helen Mayhew said “We’re naturally very sorry that circumstances have led to the Governors’ decision at Putteridge. But we respect that decision and, for our part, always put the interests of students and parents before anything else.“
The former director general of Barnfield College, Sir Peter Birkett, resigned from his new role with an international education company on December 4.
In July he resigned from the Barnfield Federation which he founded and the DfE investigation began in October.
Sir Peter said the investigation could be a “distraction” from his role as chief executive of GEMS Education UK & Europe.
The DfE and SfA report from the investigation is expected imminently.