Headteacher’s GP tells inquest Ofsted inspection contributed to her death

Headteacher Ruth Perry’s GP has said that the Ofsted inspection of her school contributed to her death.

Ms Perry’s family say she took her own life after a report from the watchdog downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

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

The inquest heard that following the Ofsted inspection, Ms Perry (pictured) spoke to her local GP, as well as contacting local mental health services.

Ms Perry’s GP, Dr Tom Back, gave evidence to the inquest at Berkshire Coroner’s Office in Reading on Friday.

He said Ms Perry spoke both to him and another GP in the weeks following the Ofsted inspection.

Mr Back said he had known Ms Perry for years, and that she had no history of mental illness, except for one visit to the GP around 30 years ago over stress.

Senior coroner Heidi Connor asked Mr Back if there was a link between the Ofsted inspection and Ms Perry’s mental health deterioration and death.

He said: “Yes, I think there is a link.”

He later added that the inspection contributed “in a more than minimal way” to Ms Perry’s death.

Previously, the inquest heard that Ms Perry and her husband were due to exchange contracts on a new home.

Mr Back said Ms Perry became concerned about the cost of going through with the deal after the Ofsted inspection, as she was worried that she would lose her job and she was the “main breadwinner”.

The court also heard more from the statement of Ms Perry’s husband, Jonathan Perry.

He described Ms Perry’s final weeks, following the Ofsted inspection.

“She kept repeating that she had let everyone down,” he said.

He said that Ms Perry worried about the impact of the school’s downgrading on the local community.

“She worried that local house prices would fall and that the whole community would be angry at her,” he said.

Mr Perry said his wife regretted buying their new home.

He said that she began to have “dark thoughts” about ending her own life, and that she asked him to take her to hospital.

They visited Prospect Park Hospital, a psychiatric centre in Reading.

The headteacher then began to see her local GP, as well as local mental health services.

Mr Perry said his wife was very depressed and anxious over the rest of the term.

He said that she felt “completely devastated”, but she did not feel that she was allowed to talk about the inspection with anyone, due to maintaining confidentiality about the result.

Brian Grady, director of education at Brighter Futures for Children, which supports schools on behalf of Reading Borough Council, also gave evidence to the inquest on Friday.

He was asked about the decision not to appeal against the result of Ofsted’s inspection of Caversham Primary School.

Mr Grady said that while be believed lead Ofsted inspector Alan Derry’s behaviour had caused “distress”, the issues raised were around his “tone”.

“There was nothing I had heard that meant that we could escalate a complaint around behaviour,” he said.

He said that Ofsted’s rulebook set out what would happen if certain things were not in place.

He added: “At the time my view was that I was not able to challenge the rules that Ofsted had set down.”

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