Beds, Herts & Bucks

Barnfield Federation education chain 'to be split up'

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Media captionJudy Oliver has resigned and spoke publicly about the break up of the organisation

A schools and college group in Bedfordshire which was criticised by the government is to be split up.

The Barnfield Federation said it had decided to separate its academies and a free school from original sponsor Barnfield College.

It was ordered to make changes after concerns were raised over its governance and financial mismanagement.

The federation said the decision was "not taken lightly" but was "in the best interest" of all involved.

The federation, created in 2007, oversees Barnfield College, Moorlands Free School, the Barnfield Skills Academy, all in Luton, and the schools in the Barnfield Academy Trust.

A Skills Funding Agency report found Barnfield College wrongly claimed nearly £1m for students it could not account for and had massively overspent.

The decision to split the college from the other establishments comes after the government ordered the federation to address "immediate weaknesses".

'Amicable split'

The academies will operate as a "standalone multi-academy trust" while the college will "focus on its core business of further and higher education", the federation said.

"The absolute priority... is to ensure that the learners in our care continue to receive an excellent education," a statement said.

Students will notice "little difference" as the legal changes will only affect governance and top level management arrangements, it added.

Judy Oliver, the former acting chairman of the federation board, had initially wanted to keep the group together, but said the split was "amicable".

She has resigned from her post, but says this was part of the long-term plan.

"The academy schools are now mature enough to not need Barnfield College as a sponsor and the governors need to concentrate on the college and bring it up to the level of excellence there has been in the past," she said.

The Department for Education says a new sponsor will need to be found for the academies.

The separation is expected to take effect in November.

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