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School leaders call for pause on Ofsted inspections after Ruth Perry tragedy

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With the news breaking about Headteacher, Ruth Perry, School leaders from around the country have called for Ofsted Inspections to be paused.

Sector Response

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

“Ruth Perry’s death is an unspeakable tragedy and it is clear that school leaders across the nation have been deeply affected by the news.

“Having spoken with Ruth’s family, we know they are determined that something like this should never happen again. It is important that everyone listens to what they have to say.

“NAHT has long campaigned for fundamental reform of the current inspection system. We know that at our upcoming annual conference, our members will be determined that this campaign is intensified.

“It is clear that school leaders up and down the country are placed under intolerable pressure by the current approach. It cannot be right that we treat dedicated professions in this way. Something has to change. Whilst it should never take a tragedy like this to prompt action, this has to be a watershed moment.

“The anger and hurt being expressed currently by school staff is palpable. It is essential that all policy makers, including Ofsted, listen and respond.

“Given the strength of feeling and the need for a period of calm reflection, Ofsted should pause inspections this week.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We join with our colleagues in the NAHT and NEU in calling on Ofsted to pause inspections following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. Ofsted should undertake an immediate review of the impact of inspections on the wellbeing of school and college leaders and staff, and a pause in the inspection cycle would allow for a period in which this could happen.

“The inspectorate must also commit to giving urgent consideration to reform of the inspection system to make it fairer and less punitive. In particular, it must look at replacing the current system of graded judgements which reduce everything that a school or college does to a single blunt descriptor. These judgements do not do justice to schools and colleges, and negative outcomes are devastating to leaders, staff and communities.”

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said;

“Given recent events and widespread concerns about leaders’ wellbeing, it’s the height of insensitivity for Ofsted to be going into schools or colleges this week.

Ofsted should pause all its inspections and reflect upon the unmanageable and counter-productive stress they cause for school leaders, and the impact on leaders. This stress is well-documented in literature about Ofsted. That they are phoning leaders this week and initiating inspections speaks to the arrogance of Ofsted and their absolute lack of empathy. The claims by Ofsted to make fair or reliable judgements are not credible and this is part of the immense stress and distress for leaders.

This is an agency that is completely out of touch, and which is making claims and judgements which are unreliable. This can’t go on. Ofsted should be concerned about restoring enhanced professionalism to school leaders and education staff but they are not.  The NEU believes inspections should be paused.    

The Union is campaigning for Ofsted to be replaced. This week a petition to Replace Ofsted will be delivered to the DFE with over 40,000 signatures from across the profession. It’s time we urgently prioritise the welfare and wellbeing of the leaders and staff working so hard with children and young people in their community. We need a system which is supportive, effective and fair.”

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