Headteacher took own life after bombshell Ofsted rating on worst day of life

The family of a headteacher who took her own life says she killed herself while waiting for a negative Ofsted report.

Ruth Perry worked as the headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading.

It is understood that the 53-year-old took her own life in January after learning the school would be downgraded from "Outstanding" to "Inadequate" – the lowest possible rating.

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Ms Perry’s sister, Julia Waters, claims her sibling described the day as the “worst day of her life”.

Ms Waters told BBC South that inspectors reviewed the school on November 15 and 16 of 2022 – and her sister was given advanced notice of the result prior to it being published.

She claims that during their checks, the investigator said that a boy doing the flossing dance move, from the video game Fortnite, was evidence of the sexualisation of children at the school.

Ms Waters went on: “Ruth took her own life on January 8, all during that process every time I spoke to her, she would talk about the countdown.

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

“I remember the very first day I saw her, rather than just speaking to her on the phone, a couple of days after the end of the Ofsted inspection, she came, she was an absolute shadow of her former self.”

She added that the inspection destroyed 32 years of her sister's career and “preyed on her mind until she couldn’t take it any more”.

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The Ofsted report was published this week and found the school to be "good" in every category bar leadership and management – which was listed as inadequate.

Documents state the school leaders did not have the “required knowledge to keep pupils safe from harm”, did not take “prompt and proper actions” and had not ensured safeguarding was “effective”.

Caversham Primary School said in a letter in response to the report: “The school, led by Ruth, responded immediately after the inspection visit, to take action to resolve the issues raised.

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

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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.”

Matt Rodda, a Labour MP for Reading East, said: “I’ve had a meeting with the school's minister and I’ve also raised this with the regional director of Ofsted.

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

“Also about the way that the Ofsted framework and other regulations affecting Ofsted effectively work, and the wider pressure on headteachers.”


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