A headteacher killed herself while waiting for an Ofsted report that gave her school the lowest possible rating, her family says.
Ruth Perry, 53, who was the headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, took her own life in January after being told the school was being downgraded from ‘Outstanding’ to ‘Inadequate’.
Her sister Julia Waters said Ms Perry had experienced the “worst day of her life” after inspectors reviewed the school on 15 and 16 November last year. Inspectors had said a boy doing a flossing dance move - from the video game Fortnite - was evidence of the sexualisation of children at the school.
Ms Waters told BBC South: “Ruth took her own life on January 8, all during that process every time I spoke to her, she would talk about the countdown. I remember her clearly one day saying ‘52 days and counting’, every day she had this weight on her shoulders hanging over her and she wasn’t officially allowed to talk to her family.
“I remember the very first day I saw her, rather than just speaking to her on the phone, a couple of days after the end of the Ofsted inspection, she came, she was an absolute shadow of her former self.”
Ms Waters said the inspection destroyed 32 years of her sister’s vocation and “preyed on her mind until she couldn’t take it any more”.
The report, which was published this week, found the school to be ‘Good’ in every category, apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be ‘Inadequate’ - the lowest rating.
Inspectors said school leaders did not have the “required knowledge to keep pupils safe from harm”, did not take “prompt and proper actions” and had not ensured safeguarding was “effective”.
In a letter responding to the report, Caversham Primary School said: “The school, led by Ruth, responded immediately after the inspection visit, to take action to resolve the issues raised. Following the heart-breaking loss of Ruth, we have continued her work to ensure that the school is an effective, safe and happy place for children to learn and achieve.”
Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s regional director for the South East, said: “We were deeply saddened by Ruth Perry’s tragic death. Our thoughts remain with Mrs Perry’s family, friends and everyone in the Caversham Primary School community.”
Labour MP for Reading East Matt Rodda said he has met with the schools minister and raised the incident with the regional director of Ofsted.
He added: “I think it’s fair to say that there are local concerns about the way that the inspection was carried out. Also about the way that the Ofsted framework and other regulations affecting Ofsted effectively work, and the wider pressure on headteachers.”
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