Leading experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Leeds have issued a call for all work-related suicides to be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive following the death of a headteacher from Berkshire.
Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), professors Martin McKee and Sarah Waters called for change in response to the death of Ruth Perry, who took her life in January following an Ofsted inspection at Caversham Primary School, which was downgraded from Outstanding to Inadequate, the BBC reports.
The two experts argued in the BMJ opinion piece that healthcare professionals now need to “demand action” in order to address the issue of mental ill health that is associated with how Ofsted operates.
They went on to say that there is insufficient information available relating to other similar deaths, noting that teachers now face huge amounts of pressure at work, with many now having lost confidence in the official system of inspection.
The article continues, stating that there is currently no way of knowing how many teachers have taken their own lives in circumstances that have links to Ofsted inspections, but there are at least eight other such suicides.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that primary and nursery school teachers are at 42 per cent greater risk of suicide than the national average. However, overall teaching as a whole has a lower than average risk.
In response to the BMJ piece, Ofsted said: “Our inspectors are all former or current school leaders themselves, so they understand how it feels to be inspected. We inspect first and foremost in the interests of children, but we aim for all our inspections to be carried out professionally and sensitively, with careful regard to the impact on school staff.”
It went further, saying that it will look at revisiting schools more quickly so that concerns can be addressed easily.
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