Everything we know about Ofsted protests following Ruth Perry death
The death of headteacher Ruth Perry has sparked outrage in the education community over Ofsted’s handling of inspections.
Ms Perry, who was head at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which gave her school the lowest possible rating, her family said.
The inspection report found the school to be good in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be inadequate.
Julia Waters, the sister of Ms Perry, said the inspection destroyed 32 years of her vocation and “preyed on her mind until she couldn't take it any more”.
As a result, teachers have launched a petition calling for an inquiry into the inspection of Caversham Primary School has more than 120,000 signatures. In addition, one teacher said she would not allow entry to Ofsted inspectors, before reversing the decision on Tuesday morning.
Three unions representing teachers and school leaders have urged Ofsted to pause inspections this week in light of the news about Ms Perry.
Here we take a look at how the outrage at Ofsted begin and what will happen next:
What happened to Ruth Perry?
Ruth Perry’s sister, Julia Waters, said Ms Perry had experienced the “worst day of her life” after inspectors reviewed the school on November 15 and 16 last year.
She told BBC South that inspectors said a boy doing a flossing dance move, from the video game Fortnite, was evidence of the sexuation of children at the school.
Ms Waters said in the days before her sister died she was anxious about the “countdown” to the inspection report.
“I remember her clearly one day saying ‘52 days and counting’, every day she had this weight on her shoulders hanging over her,” she said.
“I remember the very first day I saw her, rather than just speaking to her on the phone, a couple of days after the end of the Ofsted inspection, she came, she was an absolute shadow of her former self.”
What did the report say?
The report, which was published this week, found the school to be Good in every category, apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be Inadequate, the lowest rating.
Inspectors said school leaders did not have the “required knowledge to keep pupils safe from harm”, did not take “prompt and proper actions” and had not ensured safeguarding was “effective”.
Caversham Primary School said in a letter in response to the report: “The school, led by Ruth, responded immediately after the inspection visit, to take action to resolve the issues raised.
“Following the heart-breaking loss of Ruth, we have continued her work to ensure that the school is an effective, safe and happy place for children to learn and achieve.”
Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s regional director for the south east, said: “We were deeply saddened by Ruth Perry’s tragic death.
“Our thoughts remain with Ms Perry’s family, friends and everyone in the Caversham Primary School community.”
How did the outrage begin?
After news spread of the circumstances around Ruth Perry’s death, teachers and school unions took to social media to voice their concern with the watchdog’s handling of the case and inspections widely.
Suffolk Primary Headteacher’s Association wrote on Twitter: “As an association dedicated to supporting primary school headteachers, we have written a letter to @Ofstednews. We ask, are you a force for good?”
Teacher and National Education Union officer Daniel Kebede said: “My thoughts have been with the family of Ruth Perry this weekend. Ofsted is not fit for purpose. Its findings are unreliable and flawed. Suicide is nearly 2x the national average in primary teaching profession. I absolutely support Ruth's sisters demands. Abolish Ofsted.”
Steve Chalke, the founder of the Oasis school, added that Ofsted is “Inadequate.”
“I know of many wonderful, dedicated, frontline teaching staff who have been traumatised by thoughtless inspections. It is time to revolutionise this broken and failing system,” he said.
A petition calling for an inquiry into the inspection of Caversham Primary School has more than 120,000 signatures.
Flora Cooper, executive headteacher of the John Rankin Schools, announced the plan to boycott the Ofsted inspection on Twitter on Monday and posted: “We have to do this! I’m taking the stand!”.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said it is “important” that people listen to what Ms Perry’s family have to say regarding their determination that “something like this should never happen again”.
What happens next?
Matt Rodda, a Labour MP for Reading East, said he had a meeting with the schools minister and has raised the case of Ms Perry with the regional director of Ofsted.
“I think it’s fair to say that there are local concerns about the way that the inspection was carried out,” Mr Rodda said.
“Also about the way that the Ofsted framework and other regulations affecting Ofsted effectively work, and the wider pressure on headteachers.”
Ofsted is yet to give a statement in response to the petition or calls from the education union to pause inspections.
Former Ofsted inspector Paul Garvey said without significant reform to the watchdog, there will be more illness, sadness, headteachers losing their jobs and possibly more cases like Ruth Perry.
Teachers at the John Rankin School were pictured wearing black armbands in solidarity with Ms Perry during the Ofsted inspection on Tuesday.