Ofsteds new chief says inspections need to be far more empathetic

Ofsted’s new chief says inspections need to be ‘far more empathetic’

In December, a coronial inquest found that Ofsted inspections had “likely contributed” to the death of headteacher Ruth Perry

Ofsted’s new chief inspector said the inspection process needs to be “far more empathetic” in his first interview in the role.

In December, a coronial inquest found that Ofsted inspections had “likely contributed” to the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.

Sir Martyn Oliver, who started as Ofsted’s chief inspector on New Year’s Day, told the BBC Mrs Perry’s death was a “terrible tragedy and a real shock”.

Mrs Perry took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

Senior coroner Heidi Connor said in the findings of the inquest: “I find that parts of the Ofsted inspection were conducted in a way which lacked fairness, respect and sensitivity.”

Sir Martyn said the organisation must accept the criticism in order to have “a fresh start and move on”.

He told the BBC: “Ultimately we have to be about high standards and say to parents ‘these are the standards that are being provided’. But I think we can do that in a way that is far more empathetic.

“I am determined that we shall learn those lessons and we shall review our practices, we shall work with others and we shall respond fully to the coroner’s inquest.”

The general secretaries of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) jointly called for inspections to be suspended until Ofsted implements the changes suggested by the coroner.

A statement from Geoff Barton of the ASCL and Paul Whiteman of the NAHT said: “The coroner has warned that there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken over the inspection system.”

Former Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said Ofsted had made changes to reduce pressures felt by school leaders and “will do more” to address concerns raised by the coroner.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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