Headteacher took her own life; ‘…after finding out Ofsted would be downgrading her school…’
That’s a head line that must strike a chord with every one in the NHS who has ever stood and watched inspectors trampling through their hospital, their hospice, their practice, their community. Left waiting for a result.
The report continues;
‘… a popular primary school headteacher took her own life while she was in anticipation of a negative report from Ofsted about her school.
53-year-old Ruth Perry, who was the headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, had just received the news that Ofsted would be downgrading her school from Outstanding to Inadequate… when she ended her life in January.’
Can you imagine what this young woman was going through?
Ruth’s sister Julia said;
‘… she was an absolute shadow of her former self… inspection preyed on her mind until she couldn’t take it any more… the review had destroyed 32 years of her vocation.’
‘… every day she had this weight on her shoulders hanging over her and she wasn’t officially allowed to talk to her family.’
‘She wasn’t officially allowed to talk to her family…’
... for heaven’s sake it’s a kids’ school, not GCHQ.
Regular readers will know, for years I have railed against inspection. The futility of inspection. The fallibility of inspection and the total an utter pointlessness of inspection.
And now, in the grief of a family, the bereavement of a community and the astonishment of young lives…. inspection is revealed in all its fruitless brutality.
The uselessness of inspection is summed up;
Turn up and it’s good, you’ve wasted your time.
Turn up and it’s bad, it’s too late.
Inspection a management tool discredited as far back as the time when Britain tried to make motor cars in the ‘70s.
Each vehicle inspected. Cars and vans that should have been segment leaders overheated, shorted out, leaked every fluid under the bonnet and suffered egregious quality problems that saddled the company with a reputation it could would never drive away from.
Inspection killed quality. It kills quality in manufacturing and services like the NHS.
From making cars better, to making people better, inspection is;
Reactive. It can only spot problems after they have occurred. Inspection does nothing to prevent defects from happening in the first place.
Costly process. In terms of £cost but also costly in the time it takes. Inspection in the NHS costs around £4,000,000 a week yet so much of the service is scraping along, dropped in international rankings and poor quality.
Limited. Only looks at what it sees. Defects can still occur outside the areas being inspected.
Inspectors are human beings. They make misjudgement and mistakes which leads to false positives or false negatives… and they can have prejudices and axes to grind.
Inspectors may not have ownership. They look for and identify faults and failings. They may not feel responsible for the overall quality of what they are inspecting or...
for the impact of what they conclude…
… and so it is; a bright, highly qualified, enthusiastic, sensitive, committed leader was lost to her family, her colleagues, her students and the world.
She had committed no crime. It is inspection that is the crime.
It is a fraud on the public who are persuaded it keeps them safe or improves anything.
It steals reputations and careers.
It creates a false alibi for politicians who fund services at the bone and plan nothing beyond the end of a budget then bring in the inspectors to blame the school or the Trust for not having enough money or people to run a safe institution.
To damn an entire organisation as OFSED did and as the CQC do, with casual abuse.
The epithets; 'requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ as the CQC does in healthcare, is to rip the heart out of an organisation where highly skilled people, bursting with energy and commitment and pride, are damned...
... for faults they have no control over, no budget to fix, no resource to repair.
I’ve known, for a long time, from quiet conversations with senior NHS people, inspection creates a plague of anxiety, apprehension, unease, fearfulness which too easily seeps into family life.
There is another way... if we are clever enough.
Schools and hospitals are awash with data.
Data that can predict, forecast, forewarn and anticipate problems that can be easily avoided and headed off.
Data that can create a dialogue that starts with; ‘How can we help’.
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