The ‘Guardian’ reports;
“Annaliese Briggs, 27, leaves job as head of Pimlico Primary school to ‘pursue other opportunities in primary education’
Pimlico Primary opened in September to 60 pupils on the site of Pimlico Academy, a mile from the Houses of Parliament.
A 27-year-old headteacher controversially appointed to take over a free school set up by a government minister despite having no formal teaching qualifications has left her job after only six months, the Guardian can disclose.
Annaliese Briggs was appointed principal to the new Pimlico Primary in central London in March despite criticisms that she had no teaching qualifications and little experience in running a school.
The new free school is sponsored by the Future charity set up by Lord Nash, one of Michael Gove’s closest allies who has been appointed minister in charge of schools, – and has only been admitting pupils for a month.
On Wednesday, Pimlico Primary confirmed that Briggs had left her post to “pursue other opportunities in primary education”. She will become a governor at the school instead.
Sources close to the academy say she was finding it difficult to cope with the workload. One local teacher, who did not want to be named, said he was surprised that such an inexperienced candidate had been selected.
“She was not happy because she could not cope with the job, full stop. It was too much to learn, too quickly.”
Briggs, an English literature graduate from Queen Mary, University of London, and a former deputy director of the rightwing thinktank Civitas, had no qualifications when appointed but was reportedly trained in Wandsworth in preparation for the beginning of the school year.
She said that she would ignore the national curriculum and teach lessons “inspired by the tried and tested methods of ED Hirsch Jr”, the controversial American academic.
But Labour said that her departure was embarrasing for the government. Kevin Brennan, the shadow schools minister, said Briggs’s decision to stand down raised difficult questions for the government.
“Parents will be worried that David Cameron is presiding over a dumbing down of standards in schools by allowing unqualified teachers into our classrooms.
“Labour wants to see social entrepreneurs and educational innovators injecting dynamism into our schools but not at the expense of rigour and high standards.”
Gove had called for more people without teaching qualifications to take over schools. In 2010, he announced that free schools – which are outside the control of local authorities but funded by the state – would be allowed greater leeway over appointments.
Last summer he extended such freedoms to the country’s 1,500 academies, claiming that removal of the requirement for staff to have qualified teacher status (QTS) would replicate the “dynamism” that he believes is found in private schools.
Briggs disputes that she has no experience, and insists she was chosen for her curriculum expertise. She also says she has taught primary school children in supplementary schools – which offer out-of-hours teaching – helping improve literacy and numeracy skills.
Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group on Westminster council, said Briggs should not have been put in such a difficult position. He wants the Conservative-run Westminster council to investigate the circumstances around the appointment, saying it smacks of “ideological favouritism”.
As a free school, Pimlico Primary, which is expected to have 420 pupils by 2019, will follow a curriculum which follows the principles of US academic, ED Hirsch.
His emphasis is on “cultural literacy” – certain facts, ideas and literary works that he says people need to know in order to operate effectively as citizens of the country in which they live – and learning in a highly structured way.
The school is sponsored by Future, a charity founded by John and Caroline Nash. Nash told the Guardian that his relationship with Briggs remains amicable but declined to comment further.
On Wednesday afternoon, parents of pupils at the school were not aware that Briggs was leaving. “We have been told that she is unwell and will be back soon,” said one. “We were told so last week.”