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Ruth Perry: ‘Direct link’ between headteacher who took her own life and Ofsted inspection, inquest hears | UK News

There was a “direct link” between Ofsted’s inspection of Caversham Primary School and headteacher Ruth Perry’s death, staff at the school have told an inquest.

Ms Perry’s family say she took her own life in January after the school in Berkshire went from outstanding – the highest rating – to inadequate due to safeguarding concerns.

Clare Jones-King and Joanne Grover, acting co-headteachers at Caversham, gave evidence to the inquest at Berkshire Coroner’s Office.

They were both present in the school during the inspection, the inquest heard.

When asked by senior coroner Heidi Connor if they believed there was a “direct link” between the Ofsted inspection and Ms Perry’s mental health “deterioration” and “death”, they both answered: “Yes”.

Ms Jones-King told the inquiry they were “very concerned” about the headteacher during the inspection but were worried that any actions they took may impact the headteacher’s welfare, as well as the outcome of the inspection.

Ms Grover said there was a “power imbalance” during the inspections.

She added: “The only thing that I would like to say is that it is very difficult in the position of a school leader to challenge, stop, ask, when we are in the middle of an Ofsted inspection.”

Caversham Primary School has now been upgraded to “good”

The inquest previously heard evidence from lead Ofsted inspector Alan Derry, who said it was possible to pause inspections, but he admitted he had never done so.

Mrs Jones-King said she was unaware of this possibility.

She also described a meeting she attended between Ms Perry and Mr Derry on the first day of the inspection where she said she was interrupted while speaking by the inspector.

“At one point there was a hand lifted up to stop me speaking,” she said

She described the meeting as “unpleasant”, referring to Mr Derry’s “hand gestures” and “tone of voice”.

Ms Perry’s sister, Professor Julia Waters, previously said the headteacher had experienced the “worst day of her life” after Caversham’s review.

The primary school’s rating has since been upgraded to “good”.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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