Ruth Perry’s family urge Ofsted chief to quit immediately amid mounting fury at watchdog for ‘inhumane’ and ‘intimidating’ inspection which ‘likely contributed’ to headteacher’s suicide
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The family of Ruth Perry have called on Ofsted’s chief to resign as anger grows over the watchdog’s response to the headteacher’s death after a coroner found an inspection on her school ‘likely contributed’ to her death.
It has emerged in a leaked letter that a ‘national breifing’ to inspectors on Monday will consist only of a 90-minute Q&A session and half an hour ‘forum’ to address concerns raised by Mrs Perry’s suicide.
Her sister, Professor Julia Waters, described the response as ‘shocking’ and urged Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman to quit ahead of her term coming to an end later this month.
Mrs Perry, 53, had been left ‘completely devastated’ following an ‘intimidating’ inspection at Caversham Primary School in Reading last year, which had been prompted by safeguarding concerns.
An inquest into her death heard how Mrs Perry had been tearful during the Ofsted visit, repeatedly telling inspectors: ‘It’s not looking good, is it’. The hearing concluded on Thursday that the inspection ‘likely contributed’ to her death.
Ruth Perry died in January 2023, two months after the ‘intimidating’ Ofsted inspection at Caversham Primary School
Prof Waters reads out a statement on behalf of Ruth Perry’s family following the conclusion of the inquest at Reading Town Hall
Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, has apologised for the distress Mrs Perry ‘undoubtedly experienced as a result of our inspection’
In response to the coroner’s findings, Ofsted announced it would delay inspections this week for training on ‘recognising and responding to visible signs of anxiety’ during visits by the regulator.
Speaking to The Guardian, Prof Waters said the measures did not go far enough and labelled Ofsted a ‘shambles’, adding that its leaders are ‘out of touch’.
Chief inspector Spielman apologised to the family following the conclusion of proceedings.
She said: ‘Ruth Perry’s death was a tragedy that deeply affected many people. My thoughts remain with her family, the wider Caversham school community, and everyone else who knew and loved her.
‘On behalf of Ofsted, I would like to say sorry to them for the distress that Mrs Perry undoubtedly experienced as a result of our inspection.’
She went on to outline some of the measures that the watchdog would be taking, saying: ‘We have started to develop training for all inspectors on recognising and responding to visible signs of anxiety.’
She said that ‘as a first step’, inspections would be delayed by one day to ‘bring all lead inspectors together ahead of further school inspections’.
She said the the training would be to ensure inspectors know what to do if teachers are showing signs of anxiety and to understand if an inspection needs to be paused.
READ MORE: Ruth Perry took her own life after Ofsted downgraded her primary school to ‘inadequate’
But Prof Waters said on this was ‘not enough’.
‘If this was Amanda Spielman trying to show she is taking action in response to a damning coroner’s conclusion, then she has clearly lost the plot as well as running out of ideas,’ she told The Guardian.
‘She may only have a few weeks to go before she is due to hand over to her successor, but the need for reform is urgent. She should quit now and let someone else get on with it.’
Prof Waters claimed the results of the inspection on her sister’s school had been ‘unfair’ after the school’s leadership was rated as ‘inadequate’ following the November 2022 visit. The school has since been re-graded as ‘outstanding’.
Prof Waters told BBC Breakfast on Friday: ‘The coroner has made it clear in her conclusion that what happened to Ruth was a direct result of the contact of that inspection, of the system within which that inspection took place, and as a result of the consequences of the outcome – the shame, the humiliation, the danger of Ruth losing her job.
‘All those things came together. What I have been saying and my family has been saying all along, whilst clearly there were some really terrible, terrible behaviours in that inspection – it was unfair, the results were unfair.
‘Those inspectors work within a system. And it’s the system that is the really dangerous element here. It’s the system that needs to be changed.’
Ofsted has been contacted for comment.
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