John Lewis salesman lied his way to top job overseeing seven schools in Wellingborough, Rushden and Raunds

Johnson Kane was CEO of the Education Fellowship Trust, which was responsible for 6,500 pupils and the first in the country to give up all of its schools

By Stephanie Weaver
Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 12:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 12:30 pm

The former CEO of a trust which ran nine county schools made 'more than one substantial false claim' on his CV, a tribunal has revealed.

Johnson Kane co-founded the Education Fellowship Trust (TEFT), which ran 12 schools including seven in Wellingborough, Rushden and Raunds and two in Northampton.

His CV had people believe that 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 he was high up in John Lewis.

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Johnson Kane (inset) was CEO of TEFT

But files from an Information Rights Tribunal released this month show the Department of Education's (DfE) failure to check Mr Kane's credentials or handle whistle-blower disclosures properly.

The information only come to light after education journalist Geraldine Hackett appealed against the Information Commissioner's Office when her Freedom of Information request had not been answered.

Mr Kane did work for the BAA as a commercial sales director for 18 months having lied about his qualifications, but he was never on the board, the tribunal heard.

The tribunal also heard that the John Lewis Partnership said he was employed as a junior sales person rather than as a senior manager as he had claimed.

Mr Kane's CV helped him become CEO of TEFT, which opened its first school in 2012 and had opened 12 schools within its first year of operation.

The trust, based in Islip, had responsibility for 6,500 pupils in Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire.

It ran Ruskin Junior, Warwick Academy, Olympic Primary and Wrenn School in Wellingborough as well as Risedene Academy, Rushden Community College and Windmill Primary School in Raunds.

In Jun 2015, Ofsted issued a report on the management of TEFT and the academies it administered.

It found that there was no clear record of improvement in the academies and that standards were unacceptably varied.

In around three quarters of the academies, standards were 'poor.'

In late 2016, TEFT and DfE started negotiating the possible dissolution of TEFT and the re-brokerage of its academies.

In March 2017, it was publicly announced that TEFT would transfer all 12 academies to new sponsors.

The tribunal's decision notice states: "This matter concerns specific failings on the part of TEFT, and potentially, those with the duty to supervise it.

"In particular it appears that Mr Kane's CV, which was published by TEFT, contained more than one substantial false claim.

"There were early indications that TEFT was failing, yet no action was taken by the DfE to re-broker the schools until 2017.

"This was despite both Ofsted reports and the DfE's own reports indicating substantial failings on multiple occasions.

"This matter concerns the education of children.

"The respondents rely on the public interest in the DfE ensuring that pupils receive an "excellent" standard of education.

"It is clear that the majority of pupils at TEFT schools were not receiving an excellent standard of education.

"Many were receiving a "poor" standard of education.

"Pupils, parents, and the public in general are entitled to understand why this occurred.

"There is a strong public interest in accountability and transparency of decision-making bodies, including the reasons for those decisions.

"In the present case, that interest is in understanding the decisions that led to the appointment of Mr Kane, and the decision to permit TEFT to to continue to administer schools, despite multiple failures over a course of years."

A spokesman for the Department for Education 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.”

The spokesman added that academy trusts must comply with the Academies Financial Handbook when making appointments to senior roles such as the accounting officer.

They said regional school commissioners routinely scrutinise sponsor approvals, making their processes significantly more robust than in 2012 when The Education Fellowship Trust was approved.