MP welcomes Barnfield break-up

Barnfield College
Barnfield College

The separation of Barnfield College from its academy trust is the fallout from an ‘aggressive expansion programme’, according to Luton South MP Gavin Shuker.

On Thursday the Barnfield Federation announced that the college, on New Bedford Road, will become its own entity separate from academies and a free school dotted around Luton.

The move comes after the college was investigated by the Department for Education in the wake of a Skills Funding Agency report which flagged concerns over use of funds, management and a ‘lack of oversight by governors’.

In February the Federation was told by the DfE that it should consider all options for the future, including splitting the academies from the college before September.

The split has now occurred and is expected to take effect from early November, though the Federation has asserted that its funding agencies ‘played no part’ in the plan.

A spokesman said: “This decision was not taken lightly but only after several months of deliberation.

“We believe it is in the best interest of both Barnfield College and the Barnfield Academy Trust.

“Barnfield College and the academies are planning to continue to work together to share expertise and build on the achievements of the last few years.”

Mr Shuker has called for a parliamentary debate on the Barnfield investigation.

He told Luton News: “I think that Barnfield’s decision to split the college from its chain of academies is a welcome step after the controversy which has unravelled over recent months.

“Barnfield had always been a well-respected and well embedded institution in Luton before the previous leadership began its aggressive expansion programme in 2010.

“It was here that we saw Barnfield gobbling up schools across the town and as a consequence, we have seen that the quality of education here has fallen.”