Headmistress killed herself waiting for negative Ofsted report, sister says

Ruth Perry, 53, who was Headmistress at Caversham Primary School in Reading, took her own life in January after being told the school had been downgraded from Excellent to Inadequate.

Her sister Julia Waters said Ms Perry experienced the “worst day of her life” after inspectors checked the school on November 15 and 16 last year.

She told BBC South that inspectors said a boy performing a dental floss dance move from the video game Fortnite was evidence of the sexualisation of children at the school.

Ms Waters continued: “Ruth took her own life on January 8th, during that process she kept talking about the countdown every time I spoke to her.

“I distinctly remember her saying ’52 days and counting’ one day, every day she had this weight on her shoulders hanging over her and she wasn’t officially allowed to speak to her family.

“I remember the very first day I saw her, instead of just phoning her, a few days after the Ofsted inspection ended, she came, she was an absolute shadow of her former self.”

She said the inspection destroyed 32 years of her calling and “exploited her mind until she could take it no more.”

The report, released this week, gave the school a good rating in every category except for leadership and management, where it received a poor, the lowest rating.

Inspectors said school leaders did not have the “necessary knowledge to protect students from harm”, failed to take “quick and appropriate action” and failed to ensure protection was “effective”.

Caversham Primary School responded to the report in a letter: “The school run by Ruth responded immediately after the inspection visit to take action to address the issues raised.

“Following the heartbreaking loss of Ruth, we continued her work to ensure school is an effective, safe and happy place for children to learn and achieve.”

Matthew Purves, Ofsted Regional Director for the South East said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Ruth Perry.

“Our thoughts remain with Ms Perry’s family, friends and everyone in the community at Caversham Primary School.”

Matt Rodda, a Labor MP for Reading East, said: “I have had a meeting with the Schools Minister and have also raised this with the Ofsted regional director.

“I think it’s fair to say there are local concerns about the way the inspection was conducted.

“Also about the way the Ofsted framework and other regulations affecting Ofsted are working effectively and the wider pressures on school leaders.”


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