Teacher training head defends Pimlico appointment

Annaliese Briggs
Image caption Annaliese Briggs believes she will be the youngest head teacher in Westminster at 27

A head teacher due to take over a new central London free school has defended being appointed without any formal teaching qualifications.

Labour councillors have criticised Pimlico Primary for hiring 27-year-old Annaliese Briggs, saying it is "arrogant" and "staggering".

She is studying for her postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).

Miss Briggs said she has classroom experience and had been chosen for her curriculum expertise.

'Quite staggering'

Pimlico Primary will open to 60 pupils on the site of Pimlico Academy in Lupus Street in September.

Miss Briggs had previously worked for the think tank Civitas, which advises government bodies.

She said that during that time she taught primary school children in supplementary schools - which offer out-of-hours teaching - helping improve literacy and numeracy skills.

She is completing a school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) course in Wandsworth and will qualify with a PGCE.

Image caption Paul Dimoldenberg says the appointment smacks of "ideological favouritism"

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour group at Westminster Council, said: "I can't believe how anybody could be so arrogant to believe that they can do that job when they've never taught in a school.

"I find it quite staggering."

He wants the Conservative-run Westminster Council to investigate the circumstances around the appointment, saying it smacks of "ideological favouritism".

He said prospective parents had every right to be concerned.

But Miss Briggs said: "Parents are always very interested in the backgrounds of teaching staff and I've told them about my experience."

She added: "I've been recruited on the basis of my expertise with the curriculum we will be using."

She said that resources would be shared with Pimlico Academy.

As a free school, Pimlico Primary, which will 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.

Mr Nash is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Schools.

Correction 5 April 2013: This story has been amended to clarify that Miss Briggs was not director of Civitas.

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