Barnfield Federation faces flak on three fronts

Janet Downs's picture
Barnfield Federation, whose chief executive, recently-knighted Sir Peter Birkett, wants to run a further education college for profit, is facing trouble on three fronts.

The Federation has had to withdraw a planning application to build a new college, school, care home and housing, on part of its playing field because of widespread local opposition. Critics claimed building on the site would cause the loss of a valuable community asset and worsen traffic problems.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Barnfield College are being balloted for strike action over the Federation’s plans to change teaching contracts. Staff say the new contracts will increase their already heavy teaching load and fear that they would lead to redundancies.

The Schools Adjudicator has partially upheld a complaint against the four schools in the Federation. The Adjudicator censured the late publication of the determined admissions criteria on the schools’ websites which had left little time for objections to be made. The Adjudicator did not uphold a complaint about prioritising children of members of staff as this is allowed under the Admissions Code.  Barnfield Moorlands Free School was one of the four Barnfield Federation schools censured by the Adjudicator bringing the number of first-wave free schools who have had complaints against their admissions criteria wholly or partially upheld to four: the Maharishi Free School, Langley Hall Primary Academy, West London Free School and Barnfield Moorlands.

The Federation was at the centre of controversy earlier in the year when the head and deputy of the Barnfield Moorlands Free School resigned citing undue interference in the school by the Federation. The Federation denied the accusation.

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