Tory MPs say Ofsted ‘one-word grades’ should be reviewed after headteacher’s death
Conservative MPs have called for a review of Ofsted’s one-word grading system in the wake of an outpouring of anger from teachers following the death of Ruth Perry.
The family of Ms Perry, the head of Caversham Primary in Reading, have said she was “under intolerable pressure from external scrutiny” when she took her own life in January.
Ms Perry had been told that her school would be downgraded from “outstanding” to “inadequate” following an Ofsted inspection.
Members of the House of Commons education select committee told the Telegraph they would support an MP-led inquiry into school inspections and grading following Ms Perry’s death.
Since the headteacher’s family has spoken out, teachers across the country have urged the Government to review the inspection system, which some say causes them “unmanageable” stress levels.
Nick Fletcher, a Tory MP on the education select committee, said: “Everybody’s got to be held accountable because we want children to have the best education. However, we also don’t want things happening which have been happening this week.”
An investigation into Ofsted grades is “something we could probably have a look at”, he said.
“One-word ratings is a simplistic way of doing it. We could probably do with a little bit more depth on the first page, rather than ‘requires improvement’, or ‘good’.”
Anna Firth, another Conservative MP on the committee, said: “It would certainly be sensible for the education select committee to undertake any review deemed necessary.”
She added: “I would fully expect the committee to raise the very sad issue of the Reading primary headteacher’s suicide whilst waiting for an assessment with Amanda Spielman [chief inspector of Ofsted] at the next accountability hearing.”
‘Upholding education standards’
It is understood that Robin Walker, chairman of the select committee, has previously told MPs that he supports an inquiry into the Ofsted inspection framework.
In her first public statement since the outcry over Ms Perry’s death, Ms Spielman said on Friday that the debate around reforming inspections to remove grades was a “legitimate one”.
However, she also said that any changes to the current system “would have to meet the needs both of parents and of Government”.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Ofsted has a crucial role to play in upholding education standards and making sure children are safe in school.
“They provide independent, up to date evaluations on the quality of education, safeguarding, and leadership which parents greatly rely on to give them confidence in choosing the right school for their child.”