Headteacher, 53, took own life after Ofsted rated her primary school 'inadequate'

17 March 2023, 06:16

Ruth took her own life after the inspection
Ruth took her own life after the inspection. Picture: Brighter Futures for Children/Google Maps

By Will Taylor

A headteacher took her own life after being told Ofsted would lower her school’s rating to “inadequate”.

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Ruth Perry, 53, said it was the “worst day of her life” and had been left a “shadow of her former self”, her heartbroken family said.

It has been claimed that inspectors chose to bring down Caversham Primary School’s rating on the first day of a two-day inspection.

Her sister Julia told the BBC: “I said ‘it can't be that bad’ and she said ‘yes it is, it's about as bad as it can be’."

Two months before the report was released, Ruth took her own life.

Read more: Teen stabbed to death outside school in 'targeted attack' because 'he joined a gang and left'

Ofsted had not carried out an inspection at the school for 13 years as it had previously been rated “outstanding”.

It found the school was “good” in all categories except leadership and management, which was ranked as “inadequate” as inspectors criticised poor record keeping.

Ruth was devastated at the inspection's findings
Ruth was devastated at the inspection's findings. Picture: Brighter Futures for Children

There were concerns about gaps in employment checks which could put pupils at risk. That dragged the entire school down to “inadequate”.

While inspectors praised pupils’ behaviour, saying bullying was rare, and said students knew they could get help if they had a problem, they added: “Leaders do not have the required knowledge to keep pupils safe from harm. They have not taken prompt and proper actions when pupils are at risk.

“They have not ensured that safeguarding is effective throughout the school.”

Read more: Primary school teacher stabbed 'cheating' boyfriend to death and buried body in garden, court told

Speaking about the school governors’ “ambitious vision”, inspectors said: “However, they have not ensured that they fulfil their statutory safeguarding responsibilities. Until the inspection, they were unaware of significant weaknesses in the school’s arrangements to keep pupils safe.”

But Julia hit out at a sense of “complete injustice” about the process, and said Ruth claimed inspectors had seen a boy doing a floss dance and took that to believe there was sexualisation of children at the school.

Ruth was head at Caversham Primary
Ruth was head at Caversham Primary. Picture: Google Maps

She had also said how inspectors told staff about child-on-child abuse but dismissed it as playground antics.

“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,” Julia said.

“This one-word judgement is just destroying 32 years of her vocation, education was her vocation. Thirty-two years summed up in one word, inadequate. It just preyed on her mind until she couldn't take it anymore.

“She was a huge loss, she was my little sister and she was only 53, she had so much more still to give, so much more that she could do.”

Reading East MP Matt Rodda said he had raised concerns with Ofsted about how the inspection was carried out.

The inspectorate said it was “deeply saddened” by Ruth’s death.

Her family previously said it was devastated by the loss of a “lovely mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, sister-in-law and friend”, and said the school was “very happy” under the “dedicated” teacher’s leadership.

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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