Headteacher to refuse Ofsted entry after school leader killed herself

A headteacher is planning to refuse Ofsted inspectors entry after a fellow school leader allegedly took her own life while waiting for a report that gave her school the lowest rating.

Ruth Perry, who was head at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January after Ofsted found the school to have ‘inadequate’ leadership and management, her family say.

In the wake of the tragedy, unions have called on the watchdog to pause all inspections this week.

Flora Cooper, executive headteacher of the John Rankin Schools in nearby Newbury, Berkshire, announced today that she would not let inspectors inside her school, adding that she is ‘doing this for school staff everywhere’. 

She initially called on people to support her at the school on Tuesday morning, when inspectors are due to arrive.

But she has now backtracked on this plea in order to ‘protect children, staff and our community’.

An initial tweet from her read: ‘I’ve just had the call. I’ve refused entry. Doing this for everyone for our school staff everywhere!’

She also posted: ‘Can I please get everyone here tomorrow? Would you show up? John Rankin School, Newbury. Who would support?’

Hours later, Ms Cooper wrote: ‘Please can people not come to school now in the morning.’

‘I have to protect our children, our staff and our community. Please for the protection of our children and staff’, she added.

It is understood that Ofsted is in contact with the school and is trying to resolve the situation.

A Department for Education spokesperson said insisted it is ‘a legal requirement for schools and nurseries to be inspected by Ofsted and they have a legal duty to carry out those inspections’.

It comes after Julia Waters said her sister, Ms Perry, had experienced the ‘worst day of her life’ when inspectors reviewed the school in November.

She alleged to BBC South that the inspection destroyed 32 years of her vocation and ‘preyed on her mind until she couldn’t take it any more’.

The inspection found the school to be good in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be inadequate.

The general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT has named Ms Perry’s death ‘an unspeakable tragedy’, saying it is clear that school leaders across the nation have been ‘deeply affected’.

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