A life’s work destroyed by insensitive Ofsted inspections

Former headteachers on the personal and professional toll of dealing with inspections

I was deeply saddened to read about Ruth Perry, the headteacher of Caversham primary school (Headteacher killed herself after news of low Ofsted rating, family says, 17 March). Over 20 years ago, I was an inner-city primary school headteacher whose school was subjected to one of the first Ofsted inspections. The school was placed in special measures, despite the fact that we were providing a safe and caring environment for our children. The inspection itself was dominated by Sats results and took little account of the school’s overall circumstances. One morning, during the inspection, a nine-year-old boy was sitting in my office – we were waiting for a social worker to attend since the boy had come to school high on cocaine and cannabis. An inspector saw us and told me that she was going to have to note that the boy was “not receiving equal access to the national curriculum”.

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