Ruth Perry: Schools can defer Ofsted inspections until 2024

Change announced in the wake of a damning ruling in an inquest into the headteacher's death

Change announced in the wake of a damning ruling in an inquest into the headteacher's death

11 Dec 2023, 18:50

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Schools slated for inspection this week will have all deferral requests approved, Ofsted has said, following the culmination last week of Ruth Perry’s inquest.

A coroner concluded that an Ofsted inspection at Caversham Primary School contributed to the headteacher’s death. She is also preparing to issue a regulation 28 report setting out the action that should be taken to prevent future tragedies.

This week is the last in which visits are due to take place before the Christmas break. But Ofsted said tonight it would “use our existing deferral policy to give headteachers the ability to defer their inspection to the new year, if they don’t want it to go ahead this week”.

Pressed on whether this meant all deferral requests from schools would be approved, Ofsted confirmed this was the case.

“We will explain this when we make the notification calls tomorrow. It’s important that school inspections continue, in the interests of children and parents – but we are determined to work sensitively with headteachers and their staff.”

Complaints hotline and training

Deferrals are usually only approved in certain circumstances, such as if an incident has occurred at a school.

Ofsted had delayed all inspections due this week by one day so lead inspectors could attend training today.

Ofsted and the DfE have until February 7 to respond to the coroner's report
Ruth Perry

After the inquest concluded last week, Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman apologised to Perry’s family, and also said a new complaints hotline would be set up for schools to report any concerns about their inspection to a senior official from this week.

Training will be drawn up on “recognising and responding to visible signs of anxiety”. The watchdog will “be clear” with its teams what to do if visits need to be paused mid-inspection.

The spokesperson said this evening officials “are immediately introducing a number of measures that we described last week and talked through with our lead inspectors today”.

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“We are developing new training for all inspectors, to include external experts, that will take place in early January.

“These measures address several areas of concern set out by the coroner. When we receive the coroner’s report we will urgently address all remaining issues.”

IT comes after Geoff Barton and Paul Whiteman, general secretaries of the Association of School and College Leaders and National Association of Head Teachers, urged Ofsted to immediately pause all visits.

In a joint statement, they said: “This is necessary for schools and colleges to have even a modicum of confidence in the inspectorate.

“The coroner set out seven areas of concern for her regulation 28 report…it is important that we have clarity from Ofsted about a plan and timetable to address each area before further inspections take place.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Following the inquest, it’s right that Ofsted is giving schools the choice to defer inspections until January, as an extension of their existing deferrals policy.”

They added “we will work with [Ruth’s] family and Ofsted to build on her legacy, ensuring the inspection system supports students and teachers”.

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  1. Fundamental change is what is needed not just TLC.
    Drop inspectors who have no experience of leading a whole school.
    Drop single word judgements.
    Listen to Headteachers about how to inspect or audit schools.
    We are the people who can help you get this right.

  2. S. Turner

    Inspecting schools the week before Xmas (or any other) holiday when everyone is demob happy was always an OFSTED practice for a school they had previously identified as a failing school.

  3. Peter Chambers

    I dont think this week is “the last in which inspections are due to take place before the Christmas break”
    We had an inspection last week and the HMI told us that they were not looking forward to Tuesday 19th as they were having to ring a school and norify them of an inspetion on the last Wednesday and Thursday of term

  4. Catherine Maslova

    Training (especially only for one day) is NOT enough. Ofsted has, throughout its tenure, shown total insensitivity, poor judgment, arrogance and inspectors without teaching experience. I am an ex-teacher whose exit from teaching was certainly helped by this organisation.

  5. They are putting a sticking plaster on an inspection system that does not support or develop those working in the education sector. For someone to take their own life due to the extreme pressure and insensitivity of those inspecting/delivering verdicts on a snapshot of school life should undergo major reform. Schools need to be held accountable but how this is done needs to be urgently reviewed. So sad that this could have been avoided.