School leaders’ union to ask headteachers to stop working as Ofsted inspectors

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Headteachers should stop working as Ofsted inspectors until a pay dispute with the Government is resolved, a school leaders’ union has said.

An emergency motion on inspections was tabled at the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in Telford on Saturday, following the death of Ruth Perry.

Ms Perry, headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, Berkshire, took her own life while waiting for an Ofsted report which downgraded her school from the highest rating to the lowest possible.

The motion, which was unanimously passed by delegates at the NAHT conference, called on the union’s executive to “communicate to members who are inspectors a request to consider refraining from carrying out inspections” until an ongoing pay dispute with the Government is resolved.

National Association of Head Teachers annual conference
Professor Julia Waters speaks at the National Association of Head Teachers’ annual conference (NAHT/PA)

It came after Ms Perry’s sister, Professor Julia Waters, called on school leaders who work as Ofsted inspectors to hand in their badges and refuse to be complicit in the watchdog’s “reign of terror”, in her speech to the conference.

Speaking during the debate on the motion, Michelle Sheehy, from the Walsall branch, said: “I think it is safe to say that there are no school leaders who think Ofsted in its current form is fit for purpose.

“Yet there are many school leaders who are themselves inspectors, usually, I believe, for altruistic reasons.”

She added: “It is difficult for us to say that we believe the inspection regime to be unfit for purpose and yet choose to be part of it.

“What a powerful message it would send if we were to say we would refuse to inspect schools until the process was sufficiently reformed in order to avoid the huge stress and detrimental effect on our school communities that we’ve been hearing about today.”

School leader Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson said: “We have heard time and time again about the utterly dreadful effects of Ofsted and it is not fit for purpose.

“If you are an Ofsted inspector, take your card, put it in a drawer, or better still rip it up and say not again.”

School leader Debra Mansfield-Clark, from Buckinghamshire, received a round of applause from conference delegates on Saturday when she announced that she planned to resign as an Ofsted inspector.

“I am not going to do it any more,” she said.