The family of a Caversham head teacher released a statement following her inquest calling the Ofsted inspections 'callous, perverse and inhumane'.

Ruth Perry’s family say she took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

The inquest concluded today (07/12) after taking part in Reading town hall this week.

Ruth's sister, Professor Julia Waters said: “Ruth was a head teacher, and also a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a dear friend to so many people. She died 11 months ago tomorrow. Her death has left an unfillable hole in all our lives.

“Today, the coroner’s conclusions validate what our family has known for a long time – that Ruth took her own life as the direct result of the process, outcome and consequences of an Ofsted inspection of the school she led and loved, Caversham Primary School.

“The inquest into Ruth’s death has shown the brutal inhumanity of the system of Ofsted inspections. Ofsted likes to judge people with single word labels. We could judge the current Ofsted system with our own labels. Callous, perverse and inhumane.

“Ruth’s death, and this inquest, have laid bare the imbalance of power that exists in our education system. Schools and teachers should be accountable to the families and communities they serve. Ruth of all people understood this. She was let down by an Ofsted system that was beset with glaring gaps, inconsistencies, and blind spots, yet held the power to destroy her career, and put an end to her school as she knew it.

“There are now urgent lessons that must be learnt from Ruth’s death. Ofsted has made some changes. But these changes do not go anywhere near far enough.

“We have no confidence that Ofsted, under its current leadership and management, is either willing or able to make the widespread, root-and-branch reforms to its system and culture that are so urgently needed.

“The new Chief Inspector of Schools faces a massive challenge to put these failings right.

“We would like to thank the coroner, Mrs Heidi Connor, for her integrity, rigour and humanity throughout the inquest.

“We hope that the coroner’s recommendations will be followed in full and will help to prevent future deaths. What happened to Ruth must never be allowed to happen again. We remain determined that there should be radical change, and quickly.

“We would like to thank Ruth’s friends, fellow Reading headteachers, the families of Caversham Primary, and the wider community who have shown incredible love and kindness to us and to each other. I should like to thank in particular Lisa Telling, Edmund Barnett-Ward for their unstinting support, and Pete Castle from the Reading University Press Office for his expert guidance.

“This inquest has also exposed another systemic imbalance of power – that is, the injustice of a legal aid system which refuses to support a bereaved family, even when facing three public bodies whose substantial legal costs are paid for by the taxpayer.

“I should like to thank the thousands of kind and generous members of the public who responded to our crowdfunding campaign, after we learnt, just days before the start of the inquest, that our application for legal aid had been refused.

“We could not have done this without legal representation, and I hope lessons can be learnt about the way the legal aid system should change to support bereaved families facing public bodies.

“Finally – one of the terrible features of the school inspection system is the public focus on a named individual, the headteacher, and the potentially harmful consequences of being publicly named and shamed.

“We are very grateful for the responsible way the media have reported Ruth’s death and the inquest. My family are concerned however about the sometimes very pointed, personalised focus on other individuals – including the inspectors who carried out the Ofsted inspection at Caversham Primary. Our concern has never been with individuals, but with Ofsted’s inhumane system.

“Please be conscious of this in your reporting, and in discussions on social media. As fellow human beings, we all owe each other a duty of care. As Ruth used to say, ‘There is nothing more important in life than kindness. Be kind always.'”