School leaders’ union could take Ofsted to court after Ruth Perry’s death


Ofsted could face a legal challenge over its decision not to pause its school inspections after the death of head teacher Ruth Perry, who took her own life while waiting for a report that downgraded her school to "inadequate".

The NAHT school leaders' union wants England's schools’ watchdog to pause inspections so a review to cut the risk of harm to school staff can take place.

Ofsted has said pausing inspections would not be good for children.

The school leaders' union has written to Ofsted's chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, saying "the human rights of school staff are not being protected".

The letter says steps need to be taken now to address the risk to the mental health of school staff and enable suicide risk prevention to be put in place.

Ms Perry's family has said her death was a "direct result of the pressure" caused by the school inspection.

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  • Ofsted boss rejects calls to pause inspections

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said her death "has shone a light on the intolerable pressure placed on school leaders and their staff during Ofsted inspections".

He added: "School leaders are determined that this should be a watershed moment, and that such a tragedy can never be allowed to happen again."

Mr Whiteman has asked Ms Spielman to identify and agree "immediate actions that can be taken" that are "discussed and agreed with NAHT - it needs to be done with us, not to us".

"Up until now those requests have been ignored. As such, we have no alternative but to go down this route," he added.

The Ofsted report for Ms Perry's school, Caversham Primary School, described a "welcoming and vibrant school", where staff-pupil relationships were "warm and supportive", and bullying was rare.


But it also highlighted a lack of "appropriate supervision during break times", which meant pupils were "potentially at risk of harm".

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "We are surprised by claims that Ofsted has ignored requests to engage in discussions with the NAHT.

"Amanda Spielman has met senior NAHT representatives twice in the last week, and she has clearly indicated Ofsted's willingness to continue having constructive discussions about these issues."

Following calls for inspections to be paused, Ms Spielman previously said it was "unquestionably a difficult time to be a head teacher".

She acknowledged that the debate about removing grades, where a school is given an overall mark of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate, is a "legitimate one".

But she added that the grades do give parents "a simple and accessible summary of a school's strengths and weaknesses" and are used by the government to identify struggling schools.

"I don't believe that stopping or preventing inspections would be in children's best interests. Our aim is to raise standards, so that all children get a great education" she added.

By Vanessa Clarke

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

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