Ofsted Urged to Pause UK School Inspections

School leaders in the UK have called for Ofsted inspections to be halted following the death of a secondary school headteacher Ruth Perry, who was under "intolerable pressure" according to her family.
Ofsted Urged to Pause UK School Inspections
By Carli Allan
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Education unions in the United Kingdom are urging Ofsted to suspend all school inspections after the family of a headteacher said she took her own life while waiting for an Ofsted inspection report.

Headteacher at Caversham Primary School, Ruth Perry was waiting for an Ofsted report that would rate her primary school in Reading as Inadequate, the lowest rating possible. While the inspection report gave a Good in every category, it provided an Inadequate rating for leadership and management. Her family said that Ruth's death was a direct result of the pressure put on her by the process and outcome of the Ofsted inspection.

"We do not for an instant recognise Ofsted's 'inadequate' judgement as a true reflection of Ruth's exemplary leadership or of the wonderful school she led."

Leaders from the National Education Union (NEU), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have all called on Ofsted to pause inspections.

ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton asked Ofsted to “undertake an immediate review of the impact of inspections on the wellbeing of school and college leaders and staff”.

He said the school's regulator should consider “replacing the current system of graded judgements which reduce everything that a school or college does to a single blunt descriptor”.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The anger and hurt being expressed currently by school staff is palpable. It is essential that all policymakers, including Ofsted, listen and respond."

Mary Bousted of the NEU said: “Given recent events and widespread concerns about leaders’ well-being, it’s the height of insensitivity for Ofsted to be going into schools or colleges this week.

“Ofsted should pause all its inspections and reflect upon the unmanageable and counterproductive stress they cause for school leaders, and the impact on leaders.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: 

“It is a legal requirement for schools and nurseries to be inspected by Ofsted and they have a legal duty to carry out those inspections.

“Inspections are hugely important as they hold schools to account for their educational standards and parents greatly rely on the ratings to give them confidence in choosing the right school for their child.

“We offer our deep condolences to the family and friends of Ruth Perry following her tragic death and are continuing to provide support to Caversham Primary School at this difficult time.”

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