When Ofsted inspectors visited Ruth Perry’s primary school in Reading last year, they told her it would be downgraded to the lowest ranking because of gaps they found in the school’s safeguarding administration. Perry’s death last month has led to an outpouring of anger.
Her sister Julia Waters said her family were in no doubt she had taken her life in January as a “direct result” of the pressure put on her by the Ofsted inspection.
Michelle Sheehy, the headteacher of Millfield primary school in the West Midlands, tells Nosheen Iqbal about the grip that Ofsted inspections can have on a school and its staff. From the announcement of a visit, to the inspection itself and then the formal report with its one-word grade, she says every part of the process is stressful.
Some headteachers have discussed wearing black armbands for school inspections, others have discussed initiating a judicial review against Ofsted.
Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools in England, said she was “deeply sorry” over the death of Perry, and backed “legitimate” debate over how Ofsted inspects schools in the future, but she said there would be no pause in the inspection regime.
In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and the domestic abuse helpline is 0808 2000 247. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the US, the suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org
Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian
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