Ofsted inspector ‘said Ruth Perry’s school had robust safeguarding culture’
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An Ofsted inspector told the governor at Ruth Perry’s primary school that the school had a “robust” safeguarding culture, it has been claimed at an inquest into her death.
Mrs 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, outstanding, to its lowest, inadequate, over safeguarding concerns.
An inspection report, published on Ofsted’s website in March, said 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”.
Ofsted inspectors reviewed the school on November 15 and 16 last year.
School governor Neil Walne said that lead Ofsted inspector Alan Derry told him during the inspection that the school had a “robust” safeguarding culture and that no child felt unsafe at the school.
Giving evidence to an inquest at Berkshire Coroner’s Office in Reading on Thursday, he said: “He certainly said pupils felt safe and that everyone knew who to turn to if they felt unsafe.”
However, at the end of the inspection, school leaders were told that the school was to receive an “inadequate” rating over safeguarding.
Mr Walne said that he then raised Mr Derry’s earlier comments on safeguarding to him.
“I reminded him of the comments he had made to me about a robust safeguarding culture and that no child was unsafe,” he said.
Mr Walne told the court that Mr Derry told him that he should not have made the comments.
“He said words to the effect of I should not have said that, I was wrong,” he said.
The inquest heard that the local authority and the school’s board of governors later decided not to challenge Ofsted’s rating of “inadequate”.
Mr Walne told the court that they decided not to appeal the decision as they felt they would fail, and were concerned about the amount of work that would have to go into it.
Alice Boon, a representative from Brighter Futures for Children, which supports schools on behalf of Reading Council, said that their advice was that it would be “difficult” to challenge Ofsted’s rating.
She said that there was a perception among school leaders that complaining about Ofsted inspections could “make it worse in some way”.
“They felt it would appear that they were saying that we don’t like the outcome and now we are complaining,” she said.
Senior coroner Heidi Connor has previously said that Ofsted’s rating of the school does not fall within the scope of the inquest.
Caversham Primary School was reinspected on June 21 and 22 of this year, and the subsequent report rated it good in all categories.