Ofsted

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

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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.

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