Headteacher 'blocks Ofsted inspection' in protest after head Ruth Perry, 53, took her own life over ‘inadequate’ rating

20 March 2023, 13:25 | Updated: 20 March 2023, 16:05

Flora Cooper (inset), head of John Rankin School, Newbury (left) said she was ‘taking a stand’ against the inspection process
Flora Cooper (inset), head of John Rankin School, Newbury (left) said she was ‘taking a stand’ against the inspection process. Picture: Google/Social Media

By Asher McShane

Inspectors have been blocked from entering a school by a headteacher 'taking a stand' over the death of a fellow head who took her own life after being told her school was ‘inadequate’.

Ruth Perry, 53, who had worked at Caversham primary school in Reading for 13 years, took her own life in January after she was informed that the school was being downgraded from outstanding to inadequate.

Her sister said Ms Perry had been left ‘an absolute shadow of her former self’ while awaiting an Ofsted report and the body has been urged to ‘ask tough questions about their role.”

Now, a teacher at a school around 20 miles away from Caversham primary has blocked inspectors from the education watchdog from entering.

Flora Cooper, head of John Rankin School, Newbury said she is ‘taking a stand’ against the inspection process.

The junior school head said she planned to block the inspectors’ entry to the school “for our school staff everywhere.”

“Need support! Please! We have to do this! I'm taking the stand!”

She is also urging people to join her outside the school gates tomorrow morning to join the campaign and process.

School leaders are currently in communication with Ofsted as they try and resolve the situation.

Ms Perry took her own life two months before the release of the results of an inspection of the school.

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

She was informed that the school’s rating would be downgraded on the first day of the inspection, which was the first she had faced as headteacher.

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

Her sister Julia said Ruth claimed inspectors saw a boy doing a floss dance and took that as evidence of ‘sexualisation’ of children at the school.

She said inspectors told staff they had seen child-on-child abuse, which turned out to be a playground fight.

“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.

Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s Regional Director for the South East said in a statement: "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."

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