UK teacher’s death puts spotlight on school inspections

London  - School inspections in England will be temporarily paused next week after a coroner said an assessment from the already under-fire system contributed to a headteacher killing herself. Ruth Perry, 53, took her own life in January after seeing a draft inspection report downgrading her school from “outstanding” to “inadequate”. Her death has raised questions about the singleword labelling of schools by inspection agency Ofsted and the stress heaped on already under-pressure staff during assessments. Perry’s death has come as England’s statefunded schools struggle with a host of challenges from government underfunding to overcoming the loss of in-presence teaching during the Covid- 19 pandemic. Teachers repeatedly walked out in 2022 and 2023 over pay, resources and workload amid an economy-wide cost of living crisis brought on by rising inflation. According to official figures, a record number of teachers quit in 2021-22, with nearly 40,000 or 8.8 percent of the workforce leaving. After a meeting with Perry’s family last week, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the government was working to improve accountability in the current system. Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said inspections next week would be delayed by a day to allow its lead inspectors to meet. She said the agency had already made a raft of changes including faster publication of reports and better training inspectors to recognise teachers’ anxiety.

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