A primary school headteacher in Witney has written to the Ofsted chief inspector urging her to challenge the inspection system.

Tim Edwards-Grundy described the “limitations” of the one-word grading system used by the schools watchdog which he said led to “disillusionment” and “defeat”.

His letter to Amanda Spielman follows the death of Ruth Perry, a headteacher of a school in Caversham who committed suicide before the publication of an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted score.

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Her family have called for an urgent review of Ofsted, and teachers and parents at another school took part in a protest ahead of an expected inspection on Tuesday morning.

Mr Edwards-Grundy said he and other staff at Blake Church of England Primary School stood with their colleagues across the country in mourning Ms Perry’s death.

“Today we are all sad and defeated,” he said, adding that Ms Perry had been “overwhelmed by the one-word judgement passed on her and her school.”

He said that’s schools “live in the shadow” of inaccurately being given an ‘inadequate’ rating, which he referred to throughout as “that one word.”

“Though Ofsted reports are published daily, I have yet to see that one-word judgement either inspire or generate change,” he said.

“That one word leads instead to disillusionment, defeat and in the case of my colleague Ruth Perry, even death.

“My staff team choose not to make hasty and poorly informed decisions about children, nor define them because of their work on one day.

Witney Gazette:

“In honour of Ruth Perry and her family, and for the sake of my colleagues who share her heavy load, I beg you to use your role to challenge a system that does not afford school leaders the same grace and understanding that we rightly give to our children.”

Mr Edwards-Grundy stressed the hard work done by staff in an education system that “is hopelessly broken and pitifully underfunded by government.”

He noted the “tidal wave” of teachers leaving the profession within five years because of the workload and Ofsted pressure.

He said: “Our days are dedicated to eking out funding to try and ensure the quality provision that our children deserve, to fighting for appropriate settings for children with additional and complex needs, to making sure that we have ticked enough boxes to avoid the ‘one word’ judgement that everyone fears.”

Mr Edwards-Grundy addressed comment made by former chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw who defended one-word ratings.

“He spoke of parents valuing a one-word grade to help them judge their local school, without any reflection on the limitations of that one word, issued by strangers after seven hours in a setting that is more complex and demanding than almost any other,” he said.

Ms Spielman is expected to refuse calls made by Mr Edwards-Grundy and other teachers to stop school inspections from going ahead.

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