Open letter to headteachers

Dear Colleagues

The news, rightly, is still focussing on the tragic death of Ruth Perry following her school’s Ofsted visit.

Whilst suicide is complex and the inquest to determine cause has not yet happened, it is clear that the inspection had a devastating effect on Ruth’s mental health.

This is not news to us. We all know of leaders for whom an Ofsted inspection has been the final straw. We can all name heads whom we have lost from the profession following an inspection – even when the outcomes of that inspection have been positive. They have found the process too punitive, too distressing, have felt too powerless throughout the whole.

To have a system of accountability in schools which relies on an external body whose very presence in schools often leads to experienced professionals breaking down, even when outcomes are good, is unsustainable.

To have a system that puts leaders who are waiting for “the call” under so much pressure on a daily basis, that their experience of coming into school after an Ofsted is unrecognisably joyous once that stress is removed, is unsustainable.

And yet it continues….

I wanted to write to you all to let you know that, as a Trust, the central team and the directors stand with you. Our Ofsted conversations/CPD/briefings will always be about how to translate what you already do into a format which Ofsted will understand using its very narrow focus.

All of us within LAAT work for the transformation of children and young people through education. This is a complex task. More complex than can be judged by a two-day inspection with a narrow, limiting lens.

Our ethos of respect and tolerance, of interdependence and intrinsic value is sometimes not visible in the manner of which some inspectors work within our schools. This is why the central team will always stand with you (literally) during the whole of your inspection. The outcomes of those inspections are just a sliver of what your school is and Ofsted as an inspectorate is greatly diminished by its inability to cast its eyes wider in searching for the truth of what our schools do.

Over the coming weeks and months, the central team will ensure that there is opportunity for discussion on how we as a trust (one tribe), react to inspections, both good and disappointing, in order to diminish the power of a process that seems divisive and damaging.

God bless.
Jackie Waters-Dewhurst

For and on behalf of Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust