Sir Peter Birkett collects gong from Buckingham Palace

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The Director General of the Barnfield Federation, Sir Peter Birkett has been to Buckingham Palace to receive the prestigious honour of a Knighthood, awarded to him in June of last year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Sir Peter Birkett proudly displays his medal

Today has been an unforgettable and truly humbling experience. The Prince of Wales was both sincere and generous when discussing the achievements of the federation."

Sir Peter was recognised for outstanding services to Further Education and the Academy Movement, a fitting nod to the remarkable achievements and contributions he has made within education during his career to date.

He collected his medal from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in the Buckingham Palace ballroom.

Sir Peter said “Today has been an unforgettable and truly humbling experience. The Prince of Wales was both sincere and generous when discussing the achievements of the federation; he spent quite some time talking to me as he did with every recipient. Now that the Investiture has taken place, it feels more real, however I am still a little overwhelmed!”

A personalised DVD with footage of the once-in-a-lifetime experience acts as a special memento.

Sir Peter is the Director General of the Barnfield Federation, a ground breaking organisation who in 2007, driven by Sir Pete, became the first Further Education College in the country to sponsor two significantly underperforming secondary schools, create academies and form a federation.

Since this point GCSE results have more than quadrupled in both academies and from a position of special measures, they are now judged as ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ by Ofsted.

This summer saw record-breaking results across the entire federation – the Academies achieved their best ever GCSE grades in their lifetime as schools and the College success rates rocketed to 89%, to position Barnfield in the top 4% highest performing colleges in the country.

Barnfield is a federation like no other – in addition to the Academies; it was the first to open a 14 – 18 Studio School and the first to convert a primary fee-paying school into a Free School.

Sir Peter is also the only Further Education College Chief Executive to be awarded National Leader in Education (NLE) status and is now listed in the 2013 edition of Who’s Who.

Sir Peter said of his visit to the Palace: “I feel extremely privileged to receive such an honour in such an incredible setting as the Ballroom in Buckingham Palace, it was really awe-inspiring. My ambition is to create the very best education and training opportunities for all young people regardless of where they live – every school should be a great school. Seeing the difference our schools and college make to individual students lives is the most rewarding element for me.”

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Sophie Ma
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