Ruth Perry: Ofsted inspectors should 'hand in badges' as show of support, sister says

'I don't want to be here, I don't want to be doing this': The sister of Ruth Perry received a standing ovation while calling for an urgent review into the watchdog

School leaders who work as Ofsted inspectors should hand in their badges and refuse to be complicit in the watchdog’s "reign of terror", the sister of a headteacher who took her own life has said.

Ruth Perry, headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, Berkshire, died while waiting for an Ofsted report which downgraded her school from the highest rating to the lowest possible.

Her sister, Professor Julia Waters, called on Ofsted and the government to "show some humanity and sensitivity" and take "urgent meaningful actions" to reform the inspection system.

In a speech to the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) annual conference, Prof Waters called for an urgent independent review into Ofsted.

She said: "We had to speak out because we want no other family to experience the pain that we have felt.

"We had to speak out because a terrible injustice has been done to my sister. Ruth was not an inadequate headteacher."

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said previously she has no "reason to doubt" the inspection before the death of Ms Perry.

An inspection report, published on Ofsted’s website in March, found Ms Perry’s school to be "good" in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be "inadequate".

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Addressing hundreds of school leaders in Telford on Saturday, Prof Waters said: "Take down your banners and write to parents to tell them that you’re doing this and why you’re doing it.

"We all know parents deserve better than misleading, dangerous single-word judgments. So stop promoting them."

She added: "How many of you in this room serve as Ofsted inspectors as well as being headteachers?

"No doubt you’re doing your best, but you’re working within a flawed, inhumane system.

"So follow the examples of Martin Hanbury, Andrew Morrish, and others. Hand in your badges. Refuse to be complicit in Ofsted’s reign of terror."

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has said she fully supports the approach of providing a clear one-word rating to help inform parents’ decisions.

Professor Julia Waters giving a speech to the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference. Credit: PA

In her speech on Saturday, Prof Waters said: "Publicly my family has been offered condolences from the very same people who continue to defend the indefensible system that destroyed Ruth.

"We don’t want warm words, thoughts and sympathies. My family wants and deserves sincere answers to our legitimate questions and concerns.

"My family wants and deserves urgent meaningful actions. We’re not placated with the few tweaks around the edges that have been offered so far."

She added: "I call again on Ofsted and the government to show some humanity and sensitivity, to recognise the urgency and the severity of our concerns.

"If Ofsted and the government continue to refuse to pause inspections, and certainly the optimal moment for doing that has passed, then I call on them to commission an urgent independent review of Ofsted’s framework, systems and culture."

Delegates at the NAHT’s conference observed a one-minute silence in memory of Ms Perry ahead of her sister’s speech.

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