From education to employment

Government to ‘Take Action’ to Support School Leaders

Gillian Keegan

The education secretary has said the government will “take action to offer further support” to school leaders following the death of Ruth Perry.

The Education Secretary made her pledge following a meeting with friends and family of late head teacher, Ruth Perry, who took her own life after her school’s Ofsted rating was downgraded following an inspection.

No further details have yet been provided on what action government will take, though.

Keegan also said she was working to “improve the accountability system” including inspection, so it “continues to raise standards while commanding the confidence of school leaders”.

HMCI, Amanda Spielman, called for an Ofsted reform last month (April). The Sector voiced its opinions on this announcement also.

Within this announcement, Amanda Spielman highlights the importance of safeguarding, but more crucially understanding and managing the risks of children coming to harm. We need to know that prompt action is taken when it happens.

Within this, there is further discussion over the debate on grading.

Sector Response

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“We are pleased that the Secretary of State has been engaging with Ruth Perry’s sister, who spoke so powerfully at our recent annual conference. Julia Waters has shown immense courage in speaking out. The suggestion that changes to inspection are now being considered is also to be welcomed. 

“However, it is regrettable that it is has taken a tragedy of this nature for the government to finally realise that reform of school inspection is required. NAHT has been warning the government for years about the harmful impact the current approach to inspection is having upon school leaders and their staff. Five years ago we published a report where we made it clear Ofsted was doing more harm than good and yet both the Department for Education and Ofsted chose to largely ignore our warnings. 

“While we have been talking with Ofsted and the government in recent weeks, we remain deeply frustrated with the lack of urgency that has been shown. Up until now there has been a failure to grasp the scale of change that is required, as well as the need to bring some immediate relief of the pressure school leaders remain under. This announcement must open the door to immediate and meaningful change agreed with the profession.”

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