Tributes pour in after sudden death of inspiring Camden headteacher

A Camden school is reeling after the sudden death of its pioneering headteacher just days after the school was named the borough’s top performing primary.

Annie Williams, head at Holy Trinity and Saint Silas CofE Primary School since 2001, died in hospital on Sunday night following a short battle with leukaemia.

The mother-of-one’s vision and innovation, which included an emphasis on Shakespeare throughout the school’s curriculum, was credited with lifting the school to the top of the borough’s primary school league tables.

Father Graeme Rowlands, the school’s chairman of governors, said: “She has been with us for 12 years and during that time she’s transformed the school and the lives of countless children and staff. She was very ill during the past two months and she’s been in intensive care for some of that time. She’d come out of intensive care and she was making progress – I’m devastated.”

After her appointment Ms Williams, inspired by her earlier days as a drama student, sought to remedy the school’s underperformance by introducing a focus on the works of Shakespeare.

It was something few primary school heads had attempted before. The decision, considered risky at the time, was vindicated by news on Thursday of last week that the school had performed better than any other primary in the borough in last summer’s national curriculum exams.

Acting headteacher Kirsty McCreadie said: “She really wholeheartedly felt that the use of drama in primary schools could be instrumental in raising children’s achievements and that Shakespeare shouldn’t be something that is just considered for older children or white middle class children.”

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Every year during the spring term pupils at the school in Hartland Road, Camden Town, study a Shakespeare play which culminates in performances involving children from the reception class up to year six. Over the course of the term, every aspect of the school’s curriculum is influenced by Shakespeare’s work, from art to English and even maths.

Cllr Chris Naylor, a governor, said: “What was wonderful about Annie was her determination to get the absolute best for her pupils from all ages and all backgrounds. She was a fantastic champion for education at its absolute best.”