Advertisement

Destroy Ofsted's power, says sister of headteacher who took her own life

Ruth Perry was principal at Caversham Primary School in Reading for 13 years - Brighter Futures for Children
Ruth Perry was principal at Caversham Primary School in Reading for 13 years - Brighter Futures for Children

The sister of a headteacher who took her own life following an Ofsted inspection of her school has called on parents to “destroy” the inspectorate’s power.

Ruth Perry, 53, was principal at Caversham Primary School in Reading for 13 years.

She took her own life in January after learning that the school would be downgraded from Outstanding to Inadequate in its Ofsted report, following an inspection in November, her family has said.

Ms Perry’s sister, Julia Waters, wrote on social media: “I really think we need to rally parents’ voices in the campaign to reform Ofsted.

“Parents, say no to the horrible, inaccurate and dangerous labelling of schools and heads. Destroy Ofsted’s power by refusing its legitimacy.”

Planning a vigil

Following the statement posted on Tuesday, campaigners started planning a vigil outside Ofsted’s central London headquarters on Thursday lunchtime and a memorial walk on April 8, from Caversham Primary School to Reading town centre.

Ofsted has removed a reference to Ms Perry’s death from its final report on the primary school.

In the first copy of the published report on Caversham Primary School, released on Tuesday, the inspectorate said: “There has been a change of leadership at the school following the death of the headteacher who was in post at the time of the inspection.”

But in a later copy of the report this bullet point appears to have been removed. The Telegraph understands that the change was made because of sensitivities around Ms Perry’s death.

Ms Perry’s family told the BBC she was left a “shadow of her former self” following the inspection.

Ofsted had originally included a reference to Ruth Perry’s death in its final report on the primary school
Ofsted had originally included a reference to Ruth Perry’s death in its final report on the primary school

On Monday, a headteacher threatened to boycott an Ofsted inspection of her school over the matter, although the inspection did subsequently go ahead as planned.

Flora Cooper, executive headteacher at John Rankin Infant and Nursery School in Berkshire, initially said that she planned to refuse inspectors entry to her school.

And on Tuesday, the Primary Headteachers’ Association in Suffolk said they had discussed wearing black armbands during Ofsted inspections as well as holding a one minute’s silence during the inspectorate’s visits.

Suspension of inspections

The association and national teaching unions have also called for the suspension of Ofsted inspections and a review of the system.

The inspection of Caversham Primary found the school to be Good in every category apart from in leadership and management, with the school accused of poor record-keeping and failings in employment checks which could have put pupils at risk.

Inspectors told staff that they had seen a boy performing a dance popular on social media which they viewed as evidence of the sexualisation of pupils, the BBC reported, while it was also alleged that they reported witnessing child-on-child abuse, despite Ms Perry’s belief that this amounted to a playground scuffle.