The schools body defends its decision to hire a former insurance manager The English Schools Foundation has mounted an angry defence of its decision to hire a former insurance manager as its next chief executive, in the face of a campaign for the appointment to be reversed. Parent Jennifer Saran has been circulating an e-mail questioning the process that resulted in Mike Haynes, chairman of West Island School's Parent Teacher Association and former managing director of Euler Hermes Credit Underwriters (HK), being offered the job. She called for the ESF's executive committee, due to meet next month, to overturn the decision and for foundation members to make their views known to those with influence. Her e-mail accuses a subcommittee of the executive of having 'hijacked' the decision and ignoring the views of three panels of ESF stakeholders who interviewed the three candidates before their final interview. She claims none of the panels recommended Mr Haynes over the other two candidates, an assistant director of education for New South Wales, Australia, and an assistant minister of education from Canada. But John Shanahan, the ESF's vice-chairman and a member of the subcommittee that selected Mr Haynes, has demanded an apology from Ms Saran. 'I am astonished that you have publicly aired your prejudices in the manner in which you have and also disseminated highly inaccurate gossip,' he said in another widely circulated e-mail. 'I am personally insulted by your allegations that the procedure for appointment was circumvented, hijacked and abused.' He states that none of the candidates was favoured by the groups who met them but writes that Mr Haynes was still considered the best person for the job, on the basis of the interviews and psychometric tests. 'The results of this test, as far as Mike Haynes is concerned, showed that he was the ideal candidate for the post.' Ms Saran, a Kennedy School council member, had written: 'We must have a chief executive that knows what education is about, that the teachers and principals can respect and that the stakeholders can count on to protect the future of our members, not just the few. 'If our voices will not be heard, then I ask for all of you to sign a petition to call for a general meeting of the foundation to discuss these events and what can be done.' Her e-mail also pleads directly with Mr Haynes to withdraw his candidacy. Nick Bilcliffe, another parent, said there was widespread support for Ms Saran's stand. 'I have not spoken to any parent or any teacher who says that this is the right appointment,' he said. However, Mr Shanahan said Mr Haynes' lack of educational background was not seen as a deterrent because of the 'highly qualified staff of educationalists working with him', including a soon-to-be appointed education director. 'It was decided that at this time in the foundation's history and with the threats to our income that we are facing, a chief executive with business experience was needed,' he said. Tim Hoffman, chairman of Island School's council, said: 'I believe the executive should call a meeting of the foundation, addressing the concerns about the process and the appointment itself.' ESF chairman Jal Shroff, said: 'The decision has not yet been endorsed by the executive committee.'