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Sir Peter Birkett: 'Barnfield College troubles not my fault'

A controversial former principal has hit back at claims he was responsible for his college’s inadequate Ofsted rating, after he was accused of “starving” it of resources by building a federation of academies.

Speaking exclusively to TES, Sir Peter Birkett, former principal and chief executive of Barnfield College in Luton, said he was “saddened and sorry” for what had happened to the college since he left 19 months ago, but insisted he was not accountable for the current situation.

Last week newly-appointed chairman Robin Somerville attacked the “unacceptable failure” of previous management after a damning Ofsted report found the college had “no key strengths.”

Luton South MP Gavin Shuker said Sir Peter “starved the college of resources”, and there have been calls for him to return his knighthood, which was awarded in 2012 for services to FE and the academies movement.

But Sir Peter said the federation of four primaries and six secondary school academies which he created, which is now being split up, had “led the way” for other FE college federations and was an example of good practice.

Sir Peter said that when he resigned in July 2013, the organisation was in “one of the strongest positions ever”, with the best success rates in the country for 16-18-year-olds and a £17 million cash surplus.

“It’s easy to blame people when they are gone without knowing the facts,” he added.

Read the full article in the 23 January edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

Related stories:

Barnfield College apologises to students for poor standards - 8 January 2015

Barnfield College claimed for £1m-worth of students it did not have on record, according to investigation - 18 February 2014

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