Headteacher to refuse Ofsted inspection after death of fellow principal

UK

A headteacher has said she will refuse an Ofsted inspection following the death of fellow principal Ruth Perry.

Ms Perry, who was head at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which gave her school the lowest possible rating, her family said.

Flora Cooper, executive headteacher of John Rankin School in nearby Newbury, announced she would be “taking the stand” against Ofsted by preventing them from inspecting the school on Tuesday morning.

Tweeting her plans, Ms Cooper said: “I’ve just had the call. I’ve refused entry. This is an interesting phone call. Doing this for everyone for our school staff everywhere!”

She added: “Need support! Please! We have to do this! I’m taking the stand!”

Sky News understands Ofsted is in contact with the school to try to resolve the situation.

The head appealed to others in further tweets asking “who would support? I’m doing this! Help! I don’t know what this will look like” mentioning it was for Ruth Perry.

More on Berkshire

Caversham Primary had previously been rated as outstanding but an Ofsted inspection in November 2022 found leadership and management issues related to “safeguarding”, causing the rating to plummet – every other category was deemed good.

Commenting on Ms Perry’s death, Julia Waters said her sister had experienced the “worst day of her life” when inspectors had reviewed the school.

Ms Perry had been a pupil of Caversham and Ms Waters said the inspection destroyed 32 years of her vocation and “preyed on her mind until she couldn’t take it anymore”.

She added: “Ruth took her own life on January 8, all during that process every time I spoke to her, she would talk about the countdown.

“I remember her clearly one day saying ’52 days and counting’, every day she had this weight on her shoulders hanging over her and she wasn’t officially allowed to talk to her family.

“I remember the very first day I saw her, rather than just speaking to her on the phone, a couple of days after the end of the Ofsted inspection, she came, she was an absolute shadow of her former self.”

School and staff find Ofsted inspections “very traumatic”

Following Ms Cooper’s barring plans, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said Ofsted should pause all its inspections.

Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders said: “Many school and college leaders and their staff find inspections and Ofsted judgements very traumatic, and this is often damaging to their wellbeing.

“This case has brought matters to a head and something has to change. We will be discussing this with Ofsted as a matter of urgency.”

Matthew Purves, Ofsted regional director for the South East said: “We were deeply saddened by Ruth Perry’s tragic death. Our thoughts remain with Mrs Perry’s family, friends and everyone in the Caversham Primary School community.”

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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