Ruth Perry: Ofsted delays inspections by a day for extra training

Lead inspectors called in to urgent training on dealing with anxious heads and new complaints hotline

Lead inspectors called in to urgent training on dealing with anxious heads and new complaints hotline

Amanda Spielman

Ofsted has announced it will delay inspections next week by a day to give lead inspectors urgent extra training on dealing with anxiety and when to pause their visits.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, has apologised to the family of headteacher Ruth Perry, after an inquest into her death recorded a verdict of suicide, contributed to by an Ofsted inspection.

From next week, a new complaints hotline will also be set up for schools to report any concerns about their inspection to a senior Ofsted official.

Training will be drawn up on “recognising and responding to visible signs of anxiety”. The watchdog will “be clear” with inspectors what to do if inspections need to be paused.

Spielman also committed to “make it clear through our inspection handbook that school leaders can be accompanied by colleagues in meetings with inspectors, and that they can share inspection outcomes with colleagues, family, medical advisers and their wider support group, before they are shared with parents”.

She added Ofsted had already “made changes to the way we work” and “we will do more”, pledging to “work hard to address” each concern raised by the coroner.

The training for lead inspectors will take place on Monday, and every school inspection due to take place next week will therefore be delayed by a day.

READ: Ruth Perry: ‘Risk of future deaths’ if lessons not learned, says coroner

READ: Ofsted inspection ‘contributed’ to head Ruth Perry’s death – coroner

Amanda Spielman’s statement in full

“Ruth Perry’s death was a tragedy that deeply affected many people. My thoughts remain with her family, the wider Caversham school community, and everyone else who knew and loved her.

“On behalf of Ofsted, I would like to say sorry to them for the distress that Mrs Perry undoubtedly experienced as a result of our inspection.

“After Mrs Perry’s death we made changes to the way we work, to help reduce the pressure felt by school leaders. We will do more.

“The Coroner highlighted a number of areas of concern. We will work hard to address each of these as soon as we can, and we are starting that work straight away.

“We have started to develop training for all inspectors on recognising and responding to visible signs of anxiety.

“As a first step, we will delay our inspections next week by a day so we can bring all our lead school inspectors together ahead of further school inspections.

“As well as addressing the issue of anxiety, we will be clear with inspectors what to do if a pause is needed. 

“We will also make it clear through our inspection handbook that school leaders can be accompanied by colleagues in meetings with inspectors, and that they can share inspection outcomes with colleagues, family, medical advisers and their wider support group, before they are shared with parents.

“From next week, we will provide all schools with a number to call if they have concerns about their inspection. This will put them directly in touch with someone senior from Ofsted.    

“It’s right that we inspect first and foremost in the interests of children, their parents and carers. But in the light of Mrs Perry’s sad death, it’s also vital that we do all we can to minimise stress and anxiety when we inspect.

“Our inspectors are all former or current school leaders. They have a deep understanding of the work that schools do and the demands on school leaders – because they have done that work themselves.

“We will continue to listen to heads and teachers, and to refine and improve the way we work, with school staff in mind.”

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  1. OFSTED has never been fit for purpose; reasons include that it’s used as whip and a bludgeon by many school leaders as a means of pushing teachers to adopt teaching strategies that are directed towards cramming and training students to pass terminal exams in order to push the school up the league tables, rather than educating them.

  2. Sandy Cameron

    That’ll do it. Instant training to overcome the shortcomings of individual inspectors like the one now known to have behaved unprofessionally at the Caversham inspection.

    One lesson that is never learned is that “training” is never a cure for either incompetence or systemic weakness.

  3. What a shambles. One day’s training will fix it all! Preposterous.
    Spielman needs to be held accountable. She is the epitome of many of the inspectors employed to inspect our schools: robotic,severe lack of understanding
    of the challenges faced across the country and zero emotional intelligence.
    Where is the safer recruitment for Ofsted inspectors? The HMI who led the inspection at Caversham Primary was a headteacher who lasted two years in role. The HMI who led my school’s inspection (February) was the same; both failed headteachers who had vendetta or points to prove. They have sold their souls and absolute use the cold demeanour of spielman as the role model.
    The only difference for our school, was the outcome, ‘Good’ for us ,although we were led to believe we were failing (until the final hour). We entered the inspection in a strong position. The lead inspector enjoyed using his power ipower to belittle myself and staff.
    As Headteacher, the weight of responsibility is immense. If it was a level playing field Accountability is crucial but this can be achieved on a supportive manner.

    • Pauline Mcsorley

      One of the reasons I left teaching was the thought of another Ofsted Inspection. At one point we underwent a Subject inspection and I was told by the inspector that my lesson was outstanding but he had to reduce it to ‘good’ as it failed to hit some tick boxes.
      During a whole school inspection I was interviewed by 2 inspectors during my lunch break for 15 minutes, after that I had to go straight back to teach a lesson.
      The pressure which is on teachers and children is unbelievable, therefore lessons are unatural and stilted.

  4. Sandy Cameron

    Spielman: “I am confident that, in this case, my team were professional and humane in their inspection.”

    Coroner: The inspection “lacked fairness, respect and sensitivity” and was at times “rude and intimidating” (report by BBC).

    • Elizabeth Lewis

      I’ve known just one ex-Ofsted inspector whom I worked with in a voluntary position. After reading the comments here I think many inspectors must share her type of personality which was jealous, spiteful, with a superiority complex. The interesting thing was she didn’t want to put herself in a position of any proper responsibility herself, being more comfortable judging than being judged. She hated anyone getting any praise for good work or being popular for this reason. Does Ofsted just attract this type of personality or does the role encourage people to be nasty.

  5. E Miles

    The inspection report (available on the Oftsted website) ranked the school ‘good’ in all categories with the exception of Leadership & Management which was inadequate. The issue raised by the inspection was around safeguarding including “Leaders have not ensured that all required employment checks are complete for some staff employed at the school” which is a pretty serious failing. Yes the inspection team needs to show compassion and understanding when they visit schools but equally they need to be able to flag failure when they find it.

    • Our last Ofsted was a shambles.The quality of the inspectors was unbelievably bad.They knew nothing, and were all well past their prime topping up their pensions. They couldn’t even remember who’s lesson they had watched, and attributed my lesson to somebody else.

      • Phil Hatton

        The one thing that any Ofsted inspector should never do, regardless whether school or college, is attribute any lesson to an individual teacher. The reference to any aspect of a lesson is made anonymous in reports and any verbal feedback.