Tragic headteacher Ruth Perry’s sister has said ‘something needs to be done with Ofsted’ after the headteacher committed suicide pending an inspection report.
Ms Perry, 53, ran Caversham Primary school in Reading and took her own life two months ago after being told the school’s management was downgraded from Outstanding to Inadequate.
Her family say she described the inspection last November as the “worst day of her life” and revealed the stress she was under as she awaited the report saying she was a “shadow of her former self.”
Speaking to MailOnline, Ruth’s sister, Julia Waters, a professor of languages at the University of Reading, said the family was not happy with the school inspection.
Professor Julia Waters, Ms Perry’s sister, told MailOnline the family were not happy with the school’s inspection body, saying ‘something needs to be done with Ofsted’
Ruth Perry, 53, (pictured) ran Caversham Primary school in Reading and took her own life two months ago after being told the school’s management was downgraded from Excellent to Inadequate
When asked what she thought, Professor Waters said: ‘Something has to be done with Ofsted, that’s all I want to say at this point. We don’t want to lose more for now. It’s been a very stressful time.’
Professor Waters has given an extensive interview to the Sunday Times and is expected to launch a critical attack on Ofsted – the Government’s Office for Standards in Education – in the article.
Ms Perry, who was married with children and had been headmaster of Caversham Primary School in Reading since 2010, took her own life in January this year, believing the result was a ‘total injustice’.
She alleged that inspectors told senior staff that they had seen a boy “floss” – a dance move popular with tens of millions of children around the world thanks to social media – and that this was evidence of the sexualization of students at the school.
It is also alleged that inspectors told teachers they had seen child-on-child abuse, but Ms Perry insisted it was a scuffle on a playground. She had been told the school was downgraded from Excellent to Unsatisfactory — and committed suicide while waiting for the report to be released, her family said.
Julia claimed that her beloved sister became “an absolute shadow of her former self,” she said, adding, “This one word judgment just destroys 32 years of her calling, teaching was her calling. Thirty-two years summed up in one word: insufficient.
“It just ran through her head until she couldn’t take it anymore. She was a huge loss, she was my little sister and she was only 53, she still had so much to give, so much more she could do.”
Mrs Perry had been Headteacher at Caversham Primary School (pictured) for over ten years when Ofsted decided to downgrade the school from Excellent to Unsatisfactory
The director had a special relationship with the school because he was a student there. She returned as Deputy Headteacher in 2006 and was promoted to Principal in 2010.
Ms Perry’s sister said there is a sense of “utter injustice” about the process behind the inspection and report.
What is ‘flossing’? And is it a ‘sexualized’ dance?
Flossing is a dance craze that has swept the world in recent years.
The dance move involves swinging your hips and arms in different directions as if there is a piece of invisible dental floss between your legs.
At the same time, the hips should move in time with your arms held in two fists.
It was invented by 16-year-old social media star Russell Horning, who posted a video that went viral of him performing the dance to Katie Perry’s hit song Swish Swish.
It was further popularized in the Fortnite game, but there is no evidence that it is sexual.
The inspection was the first in 13 years for primary education, after rules exempting excellent schools from being scrutinized by Ofsted were scrapped.
She told BBC South, “I said, ‘It can’t be that bad’, and she said, ‘Yeah, it is, it’s about as bad as it can be’.”
“During that process, every time I spoke to her, she talked about the countdown. I remember well that one day she said: ’52 days and counting’.
“Every day she had this weight on her shoulders and she was officially not allowed to talk to her family. I remember the very first time I saw her, instead of just talking on the phone a few days after the Ofsted inspection ended, she was an absolute shadow of her former self.’
It is alleged that inspectors decided to demote it after the first day of the two-day inspection, as well as seemingly baseless allegations about the sexualization of children at the school.
Ms Perry took her own life on January 8 this year, just over two months before the report was released an outpouring of grief from family, friends, colleagues and the school community.
The report, released this week, found the school good in every category except leadership and management, where it was rated unsatisfactory.
The report criticized the school for poor record-keeping, with holes in its employment controls potentially putting children at risk. This caused the entire school to drop to an Unsatisfactory rating, the lowest possible.
Inspectors said that ‘most pupils are behaving sensibly and meeting the high expectations of staff’, adding: ‘The pupils know who to turn to if they have a concern or problem, and they feel confident that they get the help they need. The relationship between staff and students is warm and supportive. Cases of bullying are rare.’
But they added: “Leaders do not have the required knowledge to protect students from harm. They have not acted quickly and correctly when students are in danger. They have not ensured that the safeguarding is effective throughout the school.’
Julia says her sister (pictured together) was ‘a huge loss’ and had ‘so much more to give’
The report states: ‘Administrators have an ambitious vision of students and staff. However, they have not ensured that they comply with their statutory guarantee obligation. Until the inspection, they were not aware of significant shortcomings in the school’s arrangements to ensure student safety.’
It added that the school lacks “robust processes” to combat persistent absenteeism among some students and that leaders have a “weak understanding of security requirements and procedures.”
Matt Rodda, the Labor MP for Reading East, where the school is based, said: ‘I’ve met with the Minister for Schools and I’ve also discussed this with the Regional Director of Ofsted.
“I think it’s fair to say there are local concerns about the way the inspection has been conducted. Also about how the Ofsted framework and other regulations affecting Ofsted work effectively, and the wider pressure on headteachers.”
In a statement to BBC South, Ofsted said: ‘We were deeply saddened by the tragic death of Ruth Perry. Our thoughts remain with Mrs Perry’s family, friends and everyone in the Caversham Primary School community.’
Ofsted inspectors said leadership and management at Caversham Primary School were inadequate
In a statement released after her death, her family said: “We are devastated by the sudden loss of a dear mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, sister-in-law and friend.
“She leaves a huge, painful void in all of our lives and, we know, in the lives of so many others who were lucky enough to know her.
“We are grateful to all our friends for their thoughts and support now and in the difficult years ahead. Ruth will be remembered for the kind, funny, confident, vibrant, caring person she was and for all she accomplished in life.
“We also ask those who did not know Ruth to respect our privacy as we process our unfathomable grief, and to carefully consider the impact of their words and actions on others.”
‘As the many tributes to her from the wider school and the Caversham community attest, Ruth cared deeply not only for academic achievement, but also for the general well-being and happiness of the pupils and staff she taught and led.
‘Caversham Primary was a very happy school under Ruth’s leadership and despite the many challenges that always come with the role of principal, she was happy there too.
“Ruth was a dedicated principal and an excellent teacher. She loved the pupils and staff of Caversham Primary School and was very proud to have served as Headteacher for 12 years and Deputy Headteacher for four years prior to that.
“Ruth was a force for good in her life, and we want her to be a force for positive change beyond her death.
“We want to call on everyone affected by her death to talk about their feelings and know that help is available. Local and national helplines, advice and support can be found on the Read family information service website.’
- For confidential support, call the Samaritans at 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details