Arise Sir Pete! Barnfield supremo made a knight
BARNFIELD Federation supremo Pete Birkett was left ‘humbled, delighted and amazed’ after being handed a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Sir Pete could finally tell the world about the gong, which he received for outstanding service to further education and the academy movement, after six long weeks of having to keep it under his hat as Her Majesty’s honours list was finally published on Saturday.
He told the Luton News: “A letter dropped on the mat about six weeks and it was pretty difficult not to say anything. I wanted to share the news with my family, friends and colleagues, though my wife knew as she was there when I opened the letter.
“I guess I feel the same as anyone else who has been given the same honour, I feel humbled, surprised, delighted and amazed.
“I thought it was a bit of a wind up to tell the truth at first, it’s a surreal feeling.”
The Queen herself will bestow Sir Pete with his knighthood at a special ceremony within six months and although he’s currently excited at the prospect he also expects to be nervous nearer the time.
Since the honour was announced, Sir Pete has been inundated with messages of goodwill.
He said: “I’ve had numerous emails from lots of people, some from the Department of Education, people in government as well as friends, family and colleagues, I’m saving all the messages.
“When I arrived at work yesterday there were posters all over the place saying ‘congratulations’ and when I walked in they had the national anthem playing and champagne, it was very touching.”
And Sir Pete feels that the knighthood is testimony to his 28-year record in further education. Under his guidance, Barnfield became the country’s first further education college to sponsor two failing schools and turn them into academies, creating the federation.
The schools are now rated as ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ by Ofsted – the highest ratings achieved in the lifetime of the schools – and are now both a financial success too according to Sir Pete.
The federation also made history in 2010 and 2011 by creating the world’s first Studio School and converting a fee-paying school into a free school respectively.
“Barnfield has got an excellent reputation and I hope that this honour will further enhance that,” said Sir Pete.
> But it wasn’t all good news for Barnfield this week with Barnfield College’s Ofsted rating dropping from ‘Outstanding’ in 2007 to ‘Satisfactory’ according to a recent Ofsted inspection.
The college was given the second lowest rating following the inspection on April 27 with the hairdressing and beauty therapy branch of the college rated as ‘Inadequate’.
The report, released earlier this month, said: “A significant proportion (of lessons observed) did not focus sufficiently on ensuring that students were clear what they should be learning and achieving. They also failed to challenge students sufficiently well to achieve to their potential.”
Although the report praised ambitious leadership at the college, it said that “it’s judgements of its own performance are overgenerous.”
Barnfield Chief Executive Sir Pete Birkett said: “We are a no excuse organisation and this outcome does not represent the College’s excellent performance. During the inspection, Ofsted looked back and correctly identified, despite our best ever overall success rate of 84.1 per cent, that some long courses needed further improvement. These improvements had already been put in place and in three weeks’ time we expect to announce record results of around 90 per cent. This will almost certainly place us as the highest performing college in the country in 2012. We take all audits very seriously and we will learn from this one and raise our game even further for the good of all our students.”
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Weather for Luton
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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