Ofsted needs to look at inadequate ratings following inspections, Gove says

Ofsted needs to look at how schools can be rated inadequate overall if they only fail in one area in an inspection – following Ruth Perry’s death, Michael Gove has said.

Ms Perry, who was headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which downgraded her school to the lowest possible rating, her family said.

Levelling-Up Secretary Mr Gove insisted Ofsted plays a “vital role” in assessing school performance, but suggested ratings need to be “looked at”.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, Mr Gove paid tribute to Ms Perry, saying she was a “talented, passionately committed person”.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Michael Gove has said inadequate ratings should be looked at (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

An inspection report, published on Ofsted’s website earlier this month, found Ms Perry’s school to be “good” in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be “inadequate”.

Mr Gove said the four grades used by Ofsted: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate, are “important”.

The cabinet minister went on: “But there is one issue which I do feel we need to reflect on and look at which is that if a school is found to have failed its safeguarding criteria, then that is what is called a limiting judgment and if a school is found inadequate in that area, that means it is inadequate overall, even if it has strong teaching and learning and its other areas are good as well.

“Safeguarding is the set of rules that govern the wellbeing of children within the school, the health and safety and protection and so on.

“I do think we need to look at the way in which a limiting judgment as it’s called, a technical term, means that a failure in one area means failure everywhere else – but that is not a criticism of Ofsted.

“Ofsted do a great job, the Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman is someone absolutely committed to supporting teachers to do better.”

Ms Spielman has acknowledged the debate about reforming inspections to remove grades “is a legitimate one” but insisted school checks aim to raise standards and should continue.