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Home » Heads Ask Ofsted To Halt Inspections After Ruth Perry Death

Heads Ask Ofsted To Halt Inspections After Ruth Perry Death

Headteachers across Haringey have written to Ofsted demanding the education watchdog “halt inspections” following the death of a primary school head.

Ruth Perry is thought to have committed suicide after learning that her school, Caversham Primary School in Reading, was to be downgraded by Ofsted.

The letter from Haringey Early Years, Primary and Special Heads Association (HEYPSHA) comes as Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said the news of Mrs Perry’s death “was profoundly upsetting” but that it would not be in children’s best interests to stop inspections.

READ MORE – Cineworld halts plans to sell off cinemas in north London A total of 79 Haringey headteachers told Ms Spielman that while they support education providers being “held to account”, they do not support the current inspection system.

They claimed that Ofsted’s attempt to summarise school performance in one-word grades “undermines” the goal of improving schools.

The current inspection regime was described as containing “ever changing goalposts”, conducted by individuals who may never have been headteachers themselves and sometimes “go rogue”.

It cited “horror stories” of inspections “unjustly derailed” by comments or events out of the school’s control, or by inspectors “unable to rationally implement the Ofsted framework”.

The letter also criticised the inappropriate use of “pupil safeguarding” to downgrade schools.

Mrs Perry’s primary school was downgraded from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’ after the education watchdog found that leaders had “not ensured that safeguarding is effective throughout the school”.

HEYPSHA is now calling for Ofsted to “halt the current inspection system” and to undergo “a complete overhaul”, including using inspectors who have “walked the walk” and making the use of one-word judgements “a thing of the past”.

The association also threatened to suspend co-operation during any visit where inspectors “go rogue”.

READ MORE – Closing: St Dominic’s Catholic Primary School, Gospel Oak Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said: “Our thoughts remain with Ruth’s family, friends and the school community at Caversham Primary. I am deeply sorry for their loss.

“Our school inspectors are all former or serving school leaders. They understand the vital work headteachers do, and the pressures they are under.

“The sad news about Ruth has led to an understandable outpouring of grief and anger from many people in education. There have been suggestions about refusing to co-operate with inspections, and union calls to halt them entirely.

“I don’t believe that stopping or preventing inspections would be in children’s best interests.

“The broader debate about reforming inspections to remove grades is a legitimate one, but it shouldn’t lose sight of how grades are currently used. They give parents a simple and accessible summary of a school’s strengths and weaknesses.

“As teachers, school leaders and inspectors, we all work together in the best interests of children – and I’m sure that principle will frame all discussions about the future of inspection.”