Coroner’s verdict on death of Ruth Perry must be a catalyst for change

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the coroner’s verdict following the inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.
The coroner’s verdict must be a catalyst for change. 

“Ofsted must immediately improve its policies and training for inspectors to ensure that inspections are handled sensitively and compassionately particularly when a headteacher or other staff are traumatised. 

“It is also imperative that the inspection system is reformed to reduce stakes which are currently far too high because of the application of one-word or phrase judgements which reduce everything a school or college does to a label. 

“The evidence in this inquest has been heartbreaking. The impact of an Ofsted inspection on a woman who dedicated her life to education and who was the much-respected head of a much-valued school is harrowingly clear. 

“This must never happen again.

“Inspections too often have a devastating impact on the mental health and wellbeing of leaders and staff and drive people out of a profession where recruitment and retention is in a state of crisis.

“We absolutely recognise and support the need for public accountability. But it does not need to break people in the way the current system does. 

“Replacing the current system of graded judgements with a narrative approach would remove a pressure valve which drives stress and anxiety while also giving parents a fuller picture of provision. 

“This is a decision which is beyond the remit of Ofsted and it is up to the government to make this important change. It is essential that it now acts