Ruth Perry death: Teaching union calls for Ofsted to be abolished and replaced with ‘supportive framework’
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A teaching union has voted in favour of abolishing Ofsted following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. NASUWT became the second big teaching union to call for an immediate freeze on inspections to allow full mental health assessments to be carried out on teachers and school leaders.
At its recent annual conference in Glasgow, the union approved a motion that calls for Ofsted to be replaced with a “supportive framework” in wake of the death of Ms Perry, who took her life when Caversham Primary School in Reading was downgraded from outstanding to inadequate, the lowest possible rating.
According to The Times, head teachers have told of their reliance on medication to cope with the stress of Ofsted visits. Last week, the National Association of Head Teachers indicated that it could take legal action against Ofsted because of its failure to suspend inspections after Ms Perry’s death.
Delegates told the conference that the education watchdog was a “major contributor to the excessive workload and bureaucracy that blights the lives of teachers.” Gherie Weldeyesus, a teacher from Brent, said: “Let’s put an end to this peddler of misery. Let’s end this reign of terror and abolish Ofsted.”
Julie Parkin, of the NASUWT’s Newcastle branch, said school leaders and teachers were under “immeasurable pressure” as they prepared for inspections. She said: “Members are expected to remain in school until ridiculous hours of that night before, in order to ensure everything is in place, and that’s without the months of preparation beforehand.”
The campaign to abolish Ofsted has also received backing from Ms Perry’s family. Her sister, Julia Waters thanked the National Education Union for its support, saying: “We are in no doubt that Ruth’s death was a direct result of the pressure put on her by the process and outcome of an Ofsted inspection at her school.”
An Ofsted spokesperson declined to comment on the NASUWT’s motion but said: “Inspections are first and foremost for children and their parents - looking in depth at the quality of education, behaviour and how well, and safely, schools are run.
“Our inspectors are all former or current school leaders who fully understand the pressures of the role. We always want inspections to be constructive and collaborative, and in the vast majority of cases, school leaders agree that they are.”
Ms Perry, 53, who had worked at Caversham Primary School for 13 years, took her own life in January after learning of the Ofsted downgrade, which the family described as leaving her in a "shadow of her former self" following an inspection last November.