The ‘West End Extra’ reports;
“THE schools minister Lord Nash has been dealt an embarrassing blow after a young and inexperienced academy school headteacher, appointed by a charity he founded, quit four weeks after taking the reins.
Lord Nash’s education charity Future announced on Wednesday night that Annaliese Briggs was stepping down from Pimlico Primary and has already been replaced.
The 27-year-old was appointed by Future despite having no school leadership experience or formal qualifications. It said just a few months ago that she was “uniquely qualified” to run the school in Lupus Street.
But in a message to parents on Wednesday, Dr Jo Saxton, director of education at Future Academies, said: “Annaliese Briggs has decided to leave Future Academies to pursue other opportunities within primary education. Coming from within the group, our new principal is already known to you and your children, and brings over 10 years’ experience in both early years and leadership.”
West End Extra understands another classroom teacher – who along with Ms Briggs constituted the entire teaching staff at the new primary – has also stepped down.
Ms Briggs was specially appointed “Principal Designate” last year in a controversial decision by the charity’s board of governors, which is chaired by Lord Nash’s wife Caroline Nash.
Ms Briggs is a former government adviser on primary education and is a co-founder of the education charity Curriculum Centre, also funded by John Nash.
Ms Briggs was in the process of receiving teacher training earlier this year and was expected to qualify by the time the school opened in September. She will continue to serve on the school’s governing body.
A source close to the school told West End Extra that there had been an incident where parenting skills were called into question. They described it as a “Victorian approach to schooling”. It is believed the deputy head of Millbank Academy, another Future-run primary school, Kelly Teddy has been parachuted in to “hold the fort while they try to sort it all out”.
Labour group leader Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, who questioned Ms Briggs’s appointment in April, said: “Being the head of an inner-London school is a tough job which can sometimes be very stressful. By appointing someone with no teaching experience or experience in running a school, the Pimlico academy governors might now consider that this is a decision they now regret. I hope that Ms Briggs’s commitment to education is undiminished and wish her well in her future career.”
Ms Briggs, who is a former employee of the think-tank Civitas, told West End Extra last year that she planned to cut ties with the national curriculum in favour of a controversial teaching system pioneered in America.
The school, which is directly funded by the government and is not controlled by the council, follows the ideas developed by American educationist Eric Donald (ED) Hirsch Jnr, whose plans for a “knowledge-rich” curriculum have been adapted into the Core Knowledge Foundation by Civitas for use in this country. ED Hirsch’s ideas have been criticised as being too focused on facts.
The education campaign group Anti Academies Alliance said: “Gove and his sidekick Lord Nash must be feeling a little seasick. One of the additional hazards of being an unpopular education minister is that the people who work for you can sometimes want to torpedo you.”
Lord Nash, a Conservative Party donor and venture capitalist, who was made schools minister by education secretary Michael Gove in January, founded Future in 2006. It has run Pimlico School next door since it became an academy in 2008 despite a series of demonstrations from parents and teachers outside City Hall.
Lord Nash’s private equity company acquired Cemetery Management Ltd in 2003. CML legitimately profited from the sell-off of Westminster’s cemeteries for 15p by Shirley Porter in 1987 and was later contracted to dig and maintain graves for Westminster in the East Finchley Cemetery. “