Ofsted to review inspector training following Ruth Perry death

The watchdog will consider whether to draw up official guidance for inspectors on managing headteacher stress

The watchdog will consider whether to draw up official guidance for inspectors on managing headteacher stress

4 Dec 2023, 17:36

More from this author

Ofsted is reviewing its training for inspectors to include more guidance on managing headteacher stress during inspections, a senior official has told the inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.

Chris Russell, its national director of education, told Berkshire Coroners’ Court today that it would “reflect on everything that we’ve heard over the last few days”, adding that this included a review of induction training for new inspectors.

He said that while Ofsted felt is inspector training “enables them to inspect in a way that minimises stress and anxiety, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more we can do.”

The watchdog “started looking” at the induction training for inspectors last term, with adaptations potentially including “even more discussion and case studies” on dealing with headteacher stress.

Russell added that current inspectors had received additional training at the “beginning of this term”, while Ofsted would look at “the development of training over time”.

It comes after he reiterated that Ofsted does not have a written policy that would “specify” that inspections can be paused where a headteacher is under high levels of stress.

Asked by senior coroner Heidi Connor if the inspectorate was planning to ensure this was “going to be reflected somewhere in guidance”, Russell said “I don’t want to make policy on the hoof”.

But he added that it would “look into whether there’s further things we can do”.

In response to Connor questioning whether the option to pause live inspections was a “mythical thing”, Russell said it did happen.

“Over the last year we maybe have paused a dozen inspections…for a whole range of reasons,” he said.

“Some of them were to do with the headteacher becoming stressed or headteacher illnesses.”

Council thought complaint might make Ofsted outcome ‘worse’

The inquest also heard from Brian Grady, director of education at Reading Borough Council, who said the “gist” of his evidence already submitted was that the council did not offically complaing about the conduct or outcome of the inspection because they thought it “might make it worse”.

Caversham Primary School was rated ‘inadequate’ after an inspection in November last year. Perry died in January.

But Russell told the inquest that if the council felt the inspection “was wrong, they had a strong responsibility to bring it to our attention”.

Grady told the court that Reading had committed to an independent learning review following the death of Perry, but the terms of reference were yet to be set.

He added that the council would take a “much stronger, more proactive and more robust role” to “seek information” about the conduct of inspectors during Ofsted visits, but this was yet to be enshrined in written policy.

The coroner is set to deliver her conclusions on Thursday.

Samaritans are available 365 days a year. You can reach them on free call number 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

Education Support runs a confidential helpline for education staff and teachers – call 08000 562 561. 

More from this theme


Ofsted: Employers lack skills to help SEND pupils on work experience

Leaders 'prioritised work experience and many were building relationships with employers', but with 'mixed results'

Freddie Whittaker

School wasn’t gaming as it can do ‘pretty much anything’, court hears

High court judge criticises Ofsted for 'entirely erroneous understanding' of 'gaming' as city technical college downgraded to ‘good’

Lucas Cumiskey

Ofsted to examine how SEND pupils are prepared for adulthood

Inspectors will visit a 'small number of areas' to look at a 'particular aspect of SEND in-depth'

Lucas Cumiskey

Ruth Perry: Reading council to survey heads’ wellbeing and challenge rogue Ofsted inspections

Actions follow coroner report into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry, but sister says it shows council has ‘not...

Lucas Cumiskey

Ofsted orders review into wiped evidence claims

Schools Week revealed how technical glitches force inspectors to re-record inspection evidence, sometimes from memory

Freddie Whittaker

Ofsted’s digital inspection system glitch revealed

Electronic evidence gathering system has faced technical issues since it was launched in 2019

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *