Ofsted boss sees “no reason to doubt” after teacher’s death UK News

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The headmistress of Ofsted said she saw “no reason to doubt the accuracy of a school inspection” that took place before the headmistress took her own life.

Ruth Perry was the headmistress of Caversham Primary School, Reading, when the inspectors decided to downgrade her to the lowest possible grade.

She died in January while waiting for the report to be released, her family said.

Ms Perry’s death has prompted an intense scrutiny of Ofsted and calls for an overhaul of the school inspection system.

Amanda Spielman, the watchdog’s chief inspector, defended the way rankings are awarded in an appearance on the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday.

She said: “I think the results were safe and I think the inspection team worked with the professionalism and sensitivity I would expect from our inspectors.

“From what I’ve seen, I have no reason to doubt the inspection.

“Inspection is a sensitive process. We look for children there, see if education for children is right, see if the protection of children’s well-being is happening as it should.

“Sometimes that can mean that we have very difficult, very sensitive conversations during an inspection. Our inspectors are trained, prepared, they have all worked in schools themselves, they really understand how it feels on the receiving end.”

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman arrives at BBC Broadcasting House in London to appear with Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday's BBC One current affairs programme. Picture date: Sunday April 23, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Kuenssberg. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Amanda Spielman said inspections sometimes involve “very difficult, very sensitive conversations” (Image: PA)

Ms Spielman also said that a “vast majority” of schools have had a “positive and affirming experience” of inspections, while acknowledging there is a culture of fear around them.

The inspection report for Caversham Primary, published on Ofsted’s website in March, gave it a ‘good’ rating in every category except leadership and management, where it was rated ‘poor’.

Ms Perry’s sister, Professor Julia Waters, previously described the classification as “sensationalist” and “deeply damaging”.

The one-word ratings offered by Ofsted inspectors have become a focus of criticism, with some arguing they are too simplistic.

But Ms. Spielman defended them, saying they are easier for parents to understand.

Ruth Perry / A school principal killed herself while waiting for a negative Ofsted report on her school to be released, her family said. Ruth Perry, who has been Headmistress at Caversham Primary School in Reading since 2010, took her own life in January this year after being told the school had been downgraded from Excellent to Inadequate.

Ruth Perry has been Headmistress at Caversham Primary School in Reading since 2010 (Image: Brighter Futures for Children)

She said: “We look at behavior, we look at personal development, we look at leadership and management, but there are times when failure to protect can be sufficiently serious and that alone can lead to an overall judgement.

“We actually make a set of judgments when we do an inspection – we make four key judgments plus a judgment on the effectiveness of the protection, yes, they are combined into an overall judgment that is partly intended to help parents.”

She added: “It is not our place to say that we will fundamentally change the rating system, that would have to be a major government decision.”

The Joint Secretary-General of the National Education Union, Mary Bousted, who also appeared on Laura Kuenssberg’s show, said the current way of conducting inspections “doesn’t work at all”.

She said: “The problem is that Ofsted does not inspect schools fairly and Ofsted does not know if it is raising qualities in schools at all.

“There is no research to support the claims of making schools teach and learn better.”

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Justin Scaccy

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