Further scrutiny after Barnfield College finance claims

The FE Commissioner began scrutinising Barnfield College at the end of this week, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced.

The Bedfordshire-based college has been under investigation by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) following allegations of poor financial management and the investigation report is expected to be published by the end of the month.

A BIS spokesperson said: “The commissioner will be visiting the college imminently, certainly towards the end of this week.”

An allegation of poor financial management along with concerns about “extensive” staff restructuring and redundancies were passed onto Education Secretary Michael Gove by local MPs Gavin Shuker and Kelvin Hopkins in October.

The college is part of the Barnfield Federation, which also includes six secondary school academies and four primary school academies.

Judy Oliver, acting chair of the Barnfield Federation board confirmed commissioner David Collins would be visiting for a fortnight.

“Both the management and governors of the college will be fully engaged with the FE Commissioner David Collins and his team,” she said.

The founder and former director general of the federation, Sir Peter Birkett, stepped down in the summer, just over a year after the college went from an Ofsted rating of outstanding to satisfactory (now termed requires improvement).