William Eichler 21 December 2023

Unions call for school inspections to be suspended

Unions call for school inspections to be suspended image
Image: James Jiao / Shutterstock.com.

School inspections must be suspended until Ofsted implements recommendations to reform the inspections system following the death of head teacher Ruth Perry, education unions have said.

In her inquest, the results of which were published earlier this month, coroner Heidi Connor ruled that an Ofsted inspection had ‘contributed’ to Ms Perry’s death.

Mrs Perry, the head teacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January, while waiting for the publication of an Ofsted report.

Ms Connor said she was concerned over the impact of the current system on headteacher welfare and ‘the almost complete absence of Ofsted training’ for inspectors looking for signs of distress in school leaders.

She also said there was no ‘clear path’ to raise concerns during an inspection.

In response, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman said they would ‘work hard to address each of these as soon as we can, and we are starting that work straight away.’

However, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) called for inspections to be suspended.

‘The coroner has warned that there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken over the inspection system,’ the unions said in a joint statement.

‘We cannot see how inspections can continue to take place in schools and colleges after such a serious risk to the health and safety of education staff has been highlighted.

‘It is our conclusion that Ofsted inspections are now untenable and should be halted until the actions advised by the coroner are undertaken by Ofsted and the Department for Education.’

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