Sir Martyn Oliver announced that routine inspections in schools in England will not start alongside the term. Instead, a training package will be launched for inspectors, to ensure they all receive mental health training. This comes after school leaders’ unions called for Ofsted inspections to be suspended to allow meaningful action to be taken following the inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. Mrs. Perry took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading, causing concerns over safeguarding. Senior coroner Heidi Connor concluded that the Ofsted inspection likely contributed to Mrs. Perry’s death. Due to this, Sir Martyn, the new Ofsted chief inspector, announced that routine school inspections in England will not restart next week and will instead begin later in January. Next week, inspectors will receive training from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, who will then lead a rolling program of further mental health awareness training for all inspectors. Sir Martyn will also focus on Ofsted’s response to the coroner’s inquest into the death of Mrs. Perry, and will respond in full to the coroner’s findings in the coming weeks. He stressed that the materials and changes made for mental health awareness training will be made available for all to see, proving that Ofsted is determined to bring about a fresh start in the new year. The announcement was welcomed by school leaders’ unions, who emphasized the need for wider reform in the long term, including the removal of single-phrase judgments. Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union, also called for a root and branch reform of school inspection, emphasizing the need for a more collaborative system. He deemed Ofsted as a harmful presence in schools that needs to be replaced with a system that truly reflects the work of schools. Overall, there is a call for better collaboration and understanding in the inspection process.
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