A primary school headteacher took her own life after learning Ofsted planned to downgrade her school from Outstanding to Inadequate. Ruth Perry, 53, was principal at Caversham Primary School in Reading for 13 years, BBC South reported.
In an interview with the BBC, her family said she was left a “shadow of her former self” after an inspection last November. The inspection reportedly took place on November 15 and 16 last year - the first since Perry took office, after rules around monitoring of Outstanding schools were changed.
On the first day, she was told her school would be dropped from the highest grade to the lowest, her family said, in what she had described as “the worst day of her life.” The report, according to The Telegraph, found the school to be Good in every category except leadership and management.
The education watchdog accused the school of poor record keeping and failings in employment checks, which could have put children at risk. This resulted in the rating for the whole school being downgraded to Inadequate.
According to the BBC, Ofsted told staff they had seen a boy doing a dance popular on social media and viewed this as evidence of the sexualisation of pupils. The inspectors also allegedly told staff they had seen child-on-child abuse, but Perry believed this was merely a playground scuffle.
Describing the whole process a “complete injustice’, Perry’s sister Julia said the headteacher had a “weight hanging over her” while waiting for the report to be published. Perry then took her own life on January 8.
Her sister told BBC South: “All during that process, everytime I spoke to her, she would talk about the countdown. I remember clearly one day her saying ‘52 days and counting’. Everyday 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 time I saw her rather than just speaking on the phone a couple of days after the end of the Ofsted inspection, she was an absolute shadow of her former self. This one word judgement is just destroying 32 years of her vocation.
“It just preyed on her mind until she couldn’t take it anymore. She was a huge loss. She was my little sister…she was only 53, she had so much more still to give, so much more that she could do.”
The latest Ofsted report has yet to be published on its site as it still shows the last inspection in 2009, which rated the school ‘Outstanding’.
In response, Ofsted told BBC South: “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.”