Schools are removing logos and references to Ofsted ratings from their websites as a mark of solidarity with headteacher Ruth Perry, who took her own life while waiting for a negative inspection report.
Headteachers are planning to stage peaceful protests – including wearing black clothing and armbands and displaying photographs of Ms Perry around the school – when Ofsted inspections take place.
Pressure is mounting on the watchdog as school leaders and unions are calling for urgent reform of the inspection system following the death of Ms Perry.
The headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which downgraded her school to the lowest possible rating, her family said.
In a letter to Ofsted on Wednesday, school and college leaders across Reading said they wanted the “terrible tragedy to mark a turning point” in the way school inspections are carried out by the watchdog.
Lisa Telling, executive headteacher of Katesgrove Primary School and Southcote Primary School in Reading, is removing references to Ofsted from her schools’ websites, as well as advertising, in solidarity with Ms Perry.
She told the PA news agency: “Any reference to the rating, or any quotes from our Ofsted reports, we’ve been removing from our letterheads, or our letters, or publications that we send out.”
Ms Telling said many schools leaders across Reading were planning to remove positive quotes from Ofsted reports from their websites.
Emmer Green Primary School in Reading, which has an “outstanding” rating from Ofsted, has removed the watchdog’s logo from its website, letterhead and communications in solidarity with the late headteacher.
Ms Telling said her teachers will be invited to wear black clothing or black armbands, and photographs will be displayed of Ms Perry across the school, during future Ofsted inspections.
She told PA: “It’s really important to us to remember her and for her death not to be in vain.
“We have no qualms about being accountable as school leaders but it cannot be in this punitive way that it’s done on a one-word judgment which can destroy lives and destroy careers.”
It found the school to be “good” in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged as “inadequate”.
Professor Julia Waters, Ms Perry’s sister, said the watchdog’s report was “deeply harmful” in its “implied focus on one individual”.
The Suffolk Primary Headteachers’ Association (SPHA), which held a meeting with school leaders across the county on Tuesday, has said it will support schools “considering peaceful and lawful protest” when an inspection occurs.
Actions considered by headteachers in Suffolk include wearing black armbands during inspections, displaying news articles about Ms Perry or photographs of the late teacher around the school, holding a minute’s silence at the start of inspections, and saying a prayer with the inspectors present.
It comes after teachers at John Rankin School in Newbury, Berkshire – where the headteacher had planned to refuse inspectors entry but then reversed her decision – wore black armbands during an inspection earlier this week. .
Three unions representing teachers and headteachers – including the National Education Union (NEU) – have urged Ofsted to pause inspections this week.
The NEU will hand in a petition, signed by more than 45,000 people, to the Department for Education on Thursday calling on Ofsted to be replaced with an accountability system which is “supportive, effective and fair”.
Niamh Sweeney, deputy general secretary of the NEU, said: “The public debate this week has highlighted how little support there is for the concept of four blunt grades because it is clearly absurd that the whole of school life is condensed into a single-word judgment.
“There is also a growing concern among leaders that schools are being downgraded for spurious reasons which are not objective or reasonable grounds.
“It’s inescapable that, if we carry on as we are, we jeopardise the health of school leaders and won’t keep enough leaders. There are other, better approaches to inspection and it is time for change.”
Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s regional director for the South East, said: “We were deeply saddened by Ruth Perry’s tragic death.
“Our thoughts remain with Mrs Perry’s family, friends and everyone in the Caversham Primary School community.”
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