Ofsted refuses to scrap one-word reviews after headmaster’s suicide | UK News

Ofsted says one-word reviews remain after the headmaster's death - but her sister says there is no'conclusive answer'.

Ruth Perry’s family say school board promises don’t make ‘meaningful’ (Image: Brighter Futures for Children)

Ofsted has pledged to change its school inspection system after a headmistress killed herself when her ‘outstanding’ school was downgraded to ‘inadequate’.

But the watchdog stands by its one-word reviews, which have come under fire again for being too simplistic in the wake of Ruth Perry’s death.

Schools will instead be given an earlier chance to be re-inspected after addressing problems of the kind identified at Ms Perry’s school, Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman said on Friday.

The late teacher’s sister, Julia Waters, accused the panel of “marking its own homework” and not providing a “meaningful answer”.

She said: “I have heard many reassurances from the Chief Inspector for Schools and the Secretary of State for Education that their thoughts are with Ruth’s family, but we have yet to be contacted by either of them.

“Not only that, but neither Ofsted nor the Department for Education have come close to proposing any meaningful response to the growing calls for reform.

“The death of my sister shows the tragic importance of the stakes and yet Ofsted has done nothing.”

Deputy General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), Niamh Sweeney, joins members of the National Education Union (NEU) in delivering a petition signed by 45,000 people to the Department for Education in Westminster, central London. Pressure mounts on the Inspectorate as school leaders and unions call for urgent reform of the inspection system following the death of Ruth Perry, who took her own life while awaiting a negative Ofsted inspection report. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2023. Ruth, who was Headmistress at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which gave her school the lowest possible rating. PA photo. See PA story EDUCATION Perry. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The teachers union have called for ministers to impose reforms on Ofsted (Image: PA)

Ms Perry, 53, was found dead in January after learning her school, Caversham Primary in Reading, would be downgraded from Ofsted’s top grade to worst.

Her family say she described the inspection two months earlier as the “worst day of her life” and was a “shadow of her former self” while awaiting the report.

Inspectors had praised many aspects of the school but found a “weak understanding of protection requirements”.

The problem was that older children were allowed to misbehave “unnoticed” during playtime and “put others at risk of harm.”

A photograph of Ruth Perry posted to the fence outside the John Rankin Schools in Newbury, Berkshire, where headteacher Flora Cooper plans to become Ofsted inspectors following the death of Mrs Perry, who was headmaster at nearby Caversham Primary School in Reading, to refuse access. Ruth killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report, which gave her school the lowest possible rating, her family said. Picture date: Tuesday March 21, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story EDUCATION Perry. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Schools across the country have backed the Perry family’s calls for change (Image: PA)

Ms Spielman defended Ofsted’s emphasis on protection, which she said was “so important” that it could result in a school being under-graded “even when everything else is being done well”.

She added: “We will not be lenient on protection but it is an area that is not always well understood. It’s sometimes mistakenly called an exercise in paperwork, but . . . We need to ensure that schools understand and manage the risks that children harm.

“We need to know that if it happens, action will be taken immediately. However, we recognize that some gaps in school knowledge or practice are easier to fill than others.’

Ms Perry’s sister said children are “made more vulnerable to harm, no less when teachers are more concerned about the threats of Ofsted than what is really best for their students”.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has promised to meet with family and local school leaders to discuss the tragedy.

Justin Scaccy

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