Ofsted team in case of Reading head Ruth Perry ‘professional and humane’, says chief inspector

Ruth Perry Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Ofsted inspectors who produced the report for Reading headteacher Ruth Perry’s school were “professional and humane” in their role, the watchdog’s chief inspector has said.

Amanda Spielman acknowledged there were issues around accountability at schools, but reaffirmed her support for Ofsted’s current summative grading system.

Ms Perry, headteacher of Caversham Primary School, took her own life in January after an Ofsted report downgraded her school from the highest rating to the lowest.

There have been widespread calls for Ofsted to revamp its school ratings system – which uses summative words such as “outstanding” and “inadequate” – following Ms Perry’s death.

Amanda Spielman has spent seven years in the role Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Speaking at the Festival of Education at Wellington College in Berkshire, Ms Spielman said: “Inspections must continue to meet the needs of parents and government.

"Our inspectors are aware of the reality of school life.”

When asked later about Ofsted’s conduct around Ms Perry’s grading, she added: “I am confident that, in this case, my team were professional and humane in their inspection.”

Ms Spielman, who is departing her role at the end of 2023 after seven years in the position, said Ofsted knew that people were unhappy and fielded queries in a question and answer session after her speech.

On the existing grading system, she said “so much more goes in to our reports than just the overall grade” and insisted that parents “do value their simplicity and clarity”.

“Grades are a useful way to get assurances about their children’s schools,” Ms Spielman said.

The chief inspector refused to comment on Labour’s proposed pledge to scrap the grading system, with shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson promising change last month.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...