I have gone through 11 Ofsted inspections in my career and whilst I have clearly survived and thrived, I have found myself profoundly bruised by some of my encounters. I have been involved in the overturning of an Ofsted judgement which culminated in the inspector being struck off and us getting a full apology from the chief HMI, the process took six months until the letter of apology was published and left the school in a strange limbo that it never truly recovered from. Our leadership team had to remain silent, whilst our staff and community could only speculate on the judgement and our fate. Ofsted were back within 9 months to reinspect what was now a much diminished school. In my first inspection here I asked for a reschedule in order to support my wife who was due to attend her father’s funeral on the first day of inspection, Ofsted refused and instead said that I could delegate the inspection to my deputy heads, something no headteacher would do. My wife stood alone in a church in Glasgow, mourning her father. All experienced senior leaders will tell similar tales and it is little wonder that the relationship between the inspectorate and those that they serve (yes, they serve us) has become so adversarial.

Ofsted has finally had to listen, following the coroner’s report into the tragic suicide of Ruth Perry. Perry was an experienced headteacher who had proudly led her primary school for over 12 years, the safeguarding issue that Ofsted uncovered was administrational and posed no direct threat to the safety of young people. An intensely proud woman was vowed to silence, knowing that a leadership judgement of ‘Inadequate’ was due to be published and that she was to be exposed and laid bare in front of her staff and community. It has taken a suicide to prompt action and Ofsted have finally (read here) understood that they have a duty of care, not only to young people but to the public servants that care for them. Schools should be joyous places and Headteachers should feel confident that Ofsted will work with them to improve their schools, especially in areas where social disadvantage and limited opportunity makes improvement more challenging. Communities want schools to be led in the long term by people who care for and understand them. A culture of collaboration and support, rather than fear and paranoia are the only way to achieve this; let’s hope that this can be achieved!