Thousands of children’s futures were jeopardised by a salesman who blagged his way into a job running state schools, a tribunal has revealed.
When Johnson Kane co-founded the Education Fellowship Trust in 2012, he presented an impressive CV suggesting he was more than up for the job.
He claimed the Government had put him on the board of the British Airports Authority before it was privatised, that he had run a venture capital bank and that he was high up in John Lewis, when in fact he was a shop floor salesman.
Mr Kane, 67, earned a £160,000 salary for six years as chief executive of the trust, which collapsed after leaving five schools with disastrous exam results and millions of pounds in the red.
In 2017 the trust became the first in the country to give up all of its schools, after several failed inspections damaged the prospects of 6,500 students.
Files from an Information Rights Tribunal released this week show the Department for Education’s (DFE) failure to check Mr Kane’s credentials or handle whilstleblower disclosures properly.
Internal emails showed Government officials couldn’t verify the qualifications he had in 2014, but they sat on their hands until it was all too late.
One message said the DfE had ‘taken this as far as they can’ and would need Mr Kane’s written consent for a more in depth check, the Times reports.
An Information Rights Tribunal allows people to appeal against the Information Commissioner’s Office if their Freedom of Information requests have not been answered.
Mr Kane did work for the BAA as a commercial services director for 18 months having lied about his qualifications, but he was never on the board, the tribunal heard.
Former personnel director for the BAA John Mills told the tribunal how something about his claims didn’t add up.
He said: ‘The lies included naming a secondary school he had not attended and falsely claiming educational exam results.’
In 2014 the trust’s co-founder Sir Ewan Harper, who played an instrumental role in the academies policy in Tony Blair’s government, stood down from his post.
The decision to quit came after the Department for Education found ‘unusual payments’ and that Sir Ewan’s daughter had been working for a press officer.
They also found the trust had been renting its offices from his wife.
After the trust’s eventual downfall regional schools commissioner Martin Post forged a deal which meant all 12 of the trust’s schools were in the hands of central government.
Mr Kane got to stay in his job for one more year while new sponsors were found for the schools in Wiltshire, Northamptonshire and Berkshire.
The DfE said: ‘The Education Fellowship Trust has now closed. Since the introduction of regional schools commissioners, the department’s processes for sponsor approval have been strengthened, while senior appointments are a matter for academy trusts.’