Beds, Herts & Bucks

Former Barnfield Federation head Sir Peter Birkett quits new post

The former head of a chain of academies has resigned from his current role at an international school operator.

Sir Peter Birkett became chief executive of GEMS Education after leaving the Bedfordshire-based Barnfield Federation in August.

He said a government probe into Barnfield's finances and allegations of grade massaging, announced in October, was an "undue distraction" to his current employer.

GEMS said it had accepted his decision.

Group chief operating officer, Dino Varkey, confirmed the chief executive would stand down with immediate effect.

'Broad-ranging' investigation

Peter Birkett joined Barnfield College in 2007.

It now has five campuses in Luton where 20% of the town's children are taught.

Three other academies in Bedfordshire are on hold and it wants to expand further with plans for free schools in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire.

In October, one of the federation's two interim chief executives, Stephen Hall, confirmed a "broad-ranging" investigation was underway.

The Department for Education and the Skills Funding Agency confirmed they were taking the "allegations" seriously.

Sir Peter said the investigation had achieved "prominence in the press" in recent weeks.

"In order that this issue does not become an undue distraction for my colleagues and the work of GEMS Education I have decided to resign from my position," he said.

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