Ofsted: Education Secretary considering major changes to school inspections after death of head Ruth Perry

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The Education Secretary Gillian Keegan is said to be considering major changes to the way school inspections take place after a headteacher took her own life.

Changes to the way school inspections take place are being considered following the death of the headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, Berkshire, Ruth Perry. The school leader took her own life while awaiting an Ofsted report which downgraded her school from the highest rating to the lowest possible.

On Wednesday, the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, met with Ms Perry’s sister, Professor Julia Waters, where reforming school inspections to "prioritise the well-being of teachers and school leaders" was discussed. Prof Waters said: "Ruth’s death has left an aching, unfillable hole in the lives of her family, and the lives of so many others. We should be doing everything we can to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.

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“I am pleased that the Education Secretary has shown willingness to listen to the clear concerns of many people about the well-being of school leaders, and to consider urgent actions to reform school inspection to prioritise the well-being of teachers and school leaders, as well as of pupils and parents.

"We ask that everyone who talks or writes about this issue be mindful of the serious impact that their words may have on others who may be vulnerable. We urge anyone who is affected by these issues to talk about it and seek help. The Samaritans offer a superb listening service 24 hours a day for individuals, and lifesaving advice to schools and members of the media who have to respond to cases of suicide."

An Ofsted report in March found Ms Perry’s school to be "good" in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be "inadequate”. The Education Secretary said following Wednesday’s meeting: "Ruth Perry’s tragic death reminds us of the vital role of headteachers and teachers as the cornerstones of so many people’s lives.

"Ruth sat at the heart of both her community and school and it has been deeply moving and poignant to work with Ruth’s family and friends. It is important that we have meaningful conversations about the well-being of school leaders, and we will take action to offer further support.

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"With Ofsted, we are working to improve the accountability system, including inspection, ensuring it continues to raise standards while commanding the confidence of school leaders. Some of the changes will be immediate, some will take longer. School accountability, including inspection, has a vital role to play in our education system. For the sake of children, teachers, school leaders and parents, it’s essential we get these changes right."

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Ruth Perry was the headteacher at Caversham Primary School (Photo: Brighter Futures for Children)Ruth Perry was the headteacher at Caversham Primary School (Photo: Brighter Futures for Children)
Ruth Perry was the headteacher at Caversham Primary School (Photo: Brighter Futures for Children) | Brighter Futures for Children

An Ofsted spokesman said: "We’re currently in ongoing, constructive discussions with union leaders, other sector representatives and the DfE about a package of measures to improve some areas of our work with schools. We will be able to say more about this very soon."

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