Ruth Perry: coroner concludes that Ofsted inspection 'likely contributed' to death of headteacher
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A coroner has concluded that an Ofsted report which downgraded a Reading primary school to its lowest level "likely contributed" to the death of the school's headteacher, Ruth Perry.
Ms Perry took her life after receiving the report from the watchdog in which she was told her school Caversham Primary School would be downgraded from its highest level to its lowest due to safeguarding concerns. The headteacher is said to have been left tearful and incoherent after the inspection, which took place over November 15 and 16 2022, concluded.
The school was rated to be "good" in all categories apart from leadership and management, where it was branded "inadequate". The inspection report stated that leadership at the school did not have “required knowledge to keep pupils safe from harm” or take “prompt and proper actions”.
An inquiry into her death heard evidence form her husband, Jonathan Perry, who said that she was "completely devastated" by the outcome of the inspection, adding that she was concerned what the downgrading could mean for the wider community. Mr Perry also told the inquiry that his wife had told him that she felt the Ofsted inspector who conducted the inspection, Alan Derry, was a "bully" with an "agenda".
Ms Perry's GP, Tom Beck, also gave evidence to the inquiry stating that he believed there was a "link" between her mental health deteriorating and the inspection. He added that it contributed "in more than a minimal way".
Senior coroner Heidi Connor concluded: “The evidence is clear in this respect, and I find that Ruth’s mental health deterioration and death was likely contributed to by the Ofsted inspection.” She added that the inspection had been "conducted in a manner which lacked fairness, respect and sensitivity, to quote from Ofsted’s code of conduct."
Ms Connor said: “It was at times rude and intimidating. This likely had an effect on Ruth’s ability to deal fully with the inspection process. Parts of this inspection were very much done 'to' rather than 'with' this school.”