Pete Birkett, Chief Executive of Barnfield College
Barnfield College Luton is celebrating after being named as an Association of Colleges Beacon Award winner.
The awards, which this year celebrate 16 years of rewarding outstanding teaching and learning in further education colleges, were announced at the AoC's annual conference in Birmingham on November 17.
Barnfield College won the Learning and Skills Council Award for 14-19 Collaboration. It recognises exemplary initiatives in 14-19 collaborative arrangements.
The award was for the college’s sponsorship of two underperforming 11-16 secondary schools to form academies in 2007 in federation with the college. Barnfield's Chief Executive Pete Birkett, as sponsor of the academies, is Chairman of both institutions. The priority is to raise standards since the former schools had poor GCSE results.
"We are very proud to have won this prestigious award which recognises the hard work of all the staff and students at both academies and the college. As a federation, we will continue to strive for excellence in all that we do, keeping the student centre stage at all times. It was always our vision to inject Barnfield's winning DNA into the academies and this award has shown us we have done just that. Barnfield has made history with this groundbreaking approach, and we are pleased to see that now many other colleges are now following our lead," Pete Birkett said.
GCSE results at the academies have tripled from 16% to 55%* (including English and Maths) in the case of West and more than doubled from 17% to 40%* (including English and Maths) at South. This year also saw 100%* of West students achieve 5 or more A* - C grade GCSEs. These outstanding results have been achieved through new senior appointments, the involvement of students, staff and parents in the community, robust partnerships with employers, investment in Information Learning Technology and personalised support for students.
The judges said:"There is an energy and desire to transfer the culture from the college to the academies and to inspire all students to raise their expectations and aspirations."
The UK-wide Beacon Awards recognise excellence and innovation and acknowledge staff talent at all levels. They highlight the breadth and quality of education in the college sector.
Chair of the AoC Beacon Awards, Dame Patricia Morgan-Webb, said: "Beacon winners blaze a trail in finding new ways of doing things; they contribute to social justice and are instrumental in local economic and social re-generation, essential during these turbulent times. Whilst the winners this year are located all across the UK, what they all share are the key traits of innovation, creativity, responsiveness and a collaborative approach. I am delighted on behalf of the AoC Charitable Trust to reward the contribution that these colleges make; they are the pillars of our communities."
Barnfield College will host a local celebration event in the New Year and will be presented with its award by Kevin Brennan, Minister of State for Further Education, at a national presentation ceremony at Westminster next February.
*GCSE results for 2009 are subject to verification.