Premier Auckland girls' school Epsom Girls Grammar will be leaderless going into the 2008 school year.
The 1900-pupil Epsom school, founded in 1917, is one of the most sought after all-girls state schools in the country with alumni including Prime Minister Helen Clark.
In a surprise move, the school's new board chair, Campbell Scott, sent a letter to staff on Thursday informing them that principal of three years, Annette Sharp, would not be returning to the school.
The short memo said Sharp, a science teacher in her late 50s, had rethought her career and wished to resign effective from the end of term one, 2008. However, she would not be returning to the school in the new year.
No mention was made of who would lead the school on February 7, the first day of the school year.
Sharp attended the staff Christmas party, but had not mentioned that she was leaving.
She joined the school in 2005 but students on the Rate My Teachers website gave their new principal a poor grade.