Barnfield College to sell existing sites to fund move to central Luton

Barnfield College, New Bedford Road
Barnfield College, New Bedford Road
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Barnfield College has this morning announced plans to sell its sites in New Bedford Road and Enterprise Way in favour of a move to a central Luton base.

Following a disastrous Ofsted report which ranked the college as “inadequate” in all areas, Barnfield recently approved a new three-year development plan setting out the vision to once again become an outstanding college.

Barnfield College, Enterprise Way

Barnfield College, Enterprise Way

It says central to this plan is the desire to replace what it calls its “outdated and costly estate”. Currently the college is located on two sites to the north of Luton; Enterprise Way houses its Engineering, Business Computing and Construction courses, while New Bedford Road contains the administrative departments with the rest of the curriculum.

A statement issued this morning said: “Operating across two sites with some buildings dating back to the 1960s is proving to be a financial strain on the college at a time when its funding is being reduced as part of cuts to public expenditure.”

The statement added: “The college’s estate is no longer fit for purpose. Its buildings do not provide the high quality, modern learning environment that young people in Luton deserve, despite the equipment being of industry standard.

“The location of the college is also difficult to access by large numbers of prospective Luton students who find it easier to travel further afield to other institutions.”

To fund the move, with little prospect Government capital investment, the college says its only realistic option is to dispose of its current sites and find a new one.

Principal Tim Eyton-Jones said: “To meet the future needs of students and employers, it is essential that we have world-class facilities. In addition, a move to a central Luton location would benefit all.”

Since the damning Ofsted in January, the college has recently been recognised by the Skills Secretary, Nick Boles, MP, for its improvements in areas such as staffing, governance, financial management and quality of teaching and learning.

A further letter from Ofsted following a ‘Support and Challenge’ visit in the summer also stated: “Since February 2015, senior leaders have radically restricted the leadership and staffing structure and put in place a series of plans and processes to secure improvement.”

The college’s statement concluded: “The college has a pivotal role in supporting Luton’s exciting development and regeneration. A healthy, thriving college within a modern convenient estate will allow it to deliver learning to tens of thousands of local and regional students.

“It will provide local employers with the skilled workforce they need in order to effectively compete and participate in economic expansion. The college itself will directly support and create thousands of highly skilled local jobs.”

What do you think of the announcement? Email editorial@lutonnews.co.uk