Ofsted: bad reports can shatter school morale ‘to pieces’ says ex-worker as he launches fundraiser

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A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for a charity that supports teacher’s mental health

A former school worker has recalled how an Ofsted reported “shattered” morale and left teachers realing.

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Three teaching unions and headteachers have urged the watchdog to pause inspections this week following the death of Ms Perry. Caversham Primary School had been downgraded from outstanding in the report after inspectors found the school to be “good” in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged as “inadequate”.

Inspired by death of Ms Perry, Mr Harris has launched a fundraising campaign for Education Support. It is a charity dedicated to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff.

Ruth Perry took her own life while waiting for an Ofsted report downgrading her school (Photo: PA)Ruth Perry took her own life while waiting for an Ofsted report downgrading her school (Photo: PA)
Ruth Perry took her own life while waiting for an Ofsted report downgrading her school (Photo: PA) | PA

The 39-year-old from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, is currently working as a social media manager but has seen first hand the impact a negative Ofsted report can have on the morale of teachers and school staff in general.

He explained: “When I worked in schools, something I used to witness was when Ofsted was coming, you would see good hardworking people, literally working themselves into a frenzy over what is essentially box ticking. I worked in a school once where it was rated inadequate simply because of a bit of paperwork.

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“Paperwork is important but how anyone can consider it to be the be all and end all, I don’t know. It is the boxing ticking culture that we do so well in this country. I saw the morale shattered to pieces because all they see on the outside is the word inadequate, so they think the teaching must be inadequate and the safeguarding is inadequate.

Schools are removing all references to Ofsted ratings from their websites as a mark of solidarity (Photo: PA)Schools are removing all references to Ofsted ratings from their websites as a mark of solidarity (Photo: PA)
Schools are removing all references to Ofsted ratings from their websites as a mark of solidarity (Photo: PA) | PA

“The way it can drag the whole school’s reputation through the mud is just a snowball effect. When it happened at the school I was working in, the school released a full explanation but that hardly made it into the local press, because the headline was inadequate.”

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said: “We know that inspections can be challenging and we always aim to carry them out with sensitivity as well as professionalism. Our school inspectors are all former or serving school leaders. They understand the vital work headteachers do, and the pressures they are under.

“This is unquestionably a difficult time to be a headteacher. School leaders worked hard during the pandemic to keep schools open and give the best education they could, while keeping vulnerable children safe. Since then, some children and families have struggled to readjust to normal life, and schools have had to respond with care and determination. School absence is high, mental health problems have increased, and external support services are unable to meet increased demand.

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“I don’t believe that stopping or preventing inspections would be in children’s best interests. Our aim is to raise standards, so that all children get a great education. It is an aim we share with every teacher in every school.

“Inspection plays an important part. Among other things, it looks at what children are being taught, assesses how well behaviour is being taught and managed, and checks that teachers know what to do if children are being abused or harmed. We help parents understand how their child’s school is doing and we help schools understand their strengths and areas for improvement. It’s important for that work to continue.”

Mr Harris added: “In my opinion, Ofsted need reforms like driving tests need reform, a sort of continual assessment instead of just one visit and then see you again in nine months. Giving a school 24 hours working, there is so much artificially that is going on that doesn’t reflect the whole picture.

“Given the fact schools are under more pressure than ever before due to budgetary cuts, it is a system that needs looking at. Inspections are needed because schools could descend into anarchy if not, but it needs looking at.”

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His fundraiser for Education Support is aiming to raise £10,000 on GoFundMe, having previously had success raising over £17,000 for food banks on the platform. Explaining he said: “I was sat in a meeting and I tend to be aware of various organisations that help with mental health. Someone happened to mention there is a dedicated charity for mental health for teachers, they are the only charity of their kind in the UK and that made me want to help them.

“(Mental health) is something that I always try and push. There is so much grandstanding, I think it’s good to use social media to build a positive outcome.

In his GoFundMe page, Mr Harris added: “I’ve always believed in promoting charities and good causes that people might not have heard of. Given the recent headlines, I feel that this is a great opportunity to help them. “Amongst other activities, they operate a dedicated helpline to support education staff who are in need of help, and the provide financial assistance to those who are in need as well.”

NationalWorld has contacted Education Support and Ofsted for comment.

You can donate to Simon Harris’ GoFundMe page via the link here.

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