Unveiling the Emotional Aftermath of Ofsted Inspections

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How do you think teachers feel after a poor Ofsted inspection?

This blog has been published in light of the death of Ruth Perry, who had been head teacher for 13 years, took her own life in January 2023 while awaiting Ofsted’s report.

Below is an audio recording I made in January 2017 after a special measures inspection.

Silenced for three months!

To capture the unjust process, I wanted to publish this audio in January 2017, but nobody was allowed to discuss the report publicly with anyone for three months, and even if I were allowed, I was not in a good place to be able to do so.

It has taken me seven years to feel comfortable with sharing this recording, and I do so now to provide more evidence in light of Ruth Perry’s death. I believe I’d still be on the frontline today if it were not for Ofsted’s grading methodology.

In the aftermath, I believe I suffered significantly, and I know my headteacher and the team I had around me did so too. I also know that the events following Ruth Perry’s tragic death aroused painful memories for me and so many others, which Ofsted continues to refute


Consumed by Ofsted glory!

It never ceases to amaze me how many professionals in the system are consumed by the illusion of Ofsted glory.

Some believe in the hype and hysteria; school leaders are quick to stick up ‘Outstanding banners‘ across the school gates, despite others who fall victim to the process, shot in the kneecap! Their entire career, perceived as a failure, with incoming leaders believing every word written on any Ofsted report as fair, accurate and trusted.

Only now is the complaints process being reviewed.

However, I do not blame school leaders for Ofsted’s problems, even though some believe a ‘good’ rating results from their leadership. The accountability system at large fuels the Ofsted’s survival, driving political debate, school admissions, funding, league tables and reputation, to name a few.

Every school cannot achieve the elusive top grade. It is designed and managed to be that way, and it will continue to contribute towards the poor mental health of teachers.

It’s also worth adding that there has never been legislation for Ofsted to inspect using grades. The initial legislation of 1992 required a format decided by HM Chief Inspector = today, we have four grades, which is a choice.

Despite the raw audio recordings, I hope it allows many others to hear some of my thoughts in the aftermath.

I know this is just my story, but with 10-15% of all schools judged as requiring improvement or inadequate, the equivalent of 50,000 other teachers and school leaders, I suspect there will be many more who have lived my last experience …

Background reading:

  1. Outcome Conversations Damage Schools (September 2017)
  2. OfSTED Made Me Leave The Country (September 2017)
  3. The Life Of A Deputy Headteacher (July 2017)
  4. You Couldn’t Make It Up. (July 2017)
  5. An alternative to Ofsted (March 2023)

6 thoughts on “Unveiling the Emotional Aftermath of Ofsted Inspections

  1. Thank you for sharing this. As a HT I experienced a very difficult Ofsted weeks before becoming a new mother. The process and aftermath was horrendous and being on maternity leave , no one checked on my well-being. It completely consumed me while trying to care for a newborn and pick up the pieces. They were very dark days and I felt I had no choice but to resign. Ten years later I still find it difficult and after finally seeking help yet again to help me move forward, have been diagnosed with PTSD as a direct result of the inspection process and impact.

    1. I’m sorry to hear this – I think a lot of people who have lived, this will recognise your story. For those who have never experienced Ofsted as a senior leader, they may find this hard to believe, but for me, it is very real, and I can totally relate to some of the things that you’ve described. recent events regarding Ruth Perry bring back all those traumatic experiences, which is why so many people have been speaking up. I hope you are moving forward and that your newborn is all older, wiser and healthy…

  2. Teachers deserve respect and support. The Education system as epitomised by Ofsted has become abusive. This must and can change. I developed the concept of Peaceful Schools to provide a means of creating healthy and respectful schools where everyone can feel and be happy, experiencing peace and being peace builders.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I left the profession in 2016 a profession I dreamt about being in, deeply cared about and had invested in for over 25 years. I was a new Head and it wasn’t Ofsted but it was the ideals of Ofsted that drove me out. It was local school improvement and Governors relentless in their approach with minimal insight and lack of understanding of what was really happening in the school. I had a previously sailed through quite several gruelling Ofsted’s and a Siam’s. In this case I didn’t feel like I had a team and that was the difference. I felt ultimately responsible and that broke me. Like Ruth Perry I became very suddenly and seriously unwell and my career ended. I don’t want to be dramatic but It was my career or my life. I had a small child and three older children so although I was experiencing extreme anxiety I walked away. I knew there was nothing I could do at that point. I have since trained to become a psychotherapist and actually returned to teaching to break the thoughts that I lost it all. Reading about Ruth brought it all back and the reasons I went into a therapeutic field was to offer supervision to Headteachers from a lived experience. This is my next goal. I wonder about alternatives to Ofsted and how we need to find a balance in the educational sphere that is intent on being the biggest and the best.

    1. Thank you for sharing your comments. The more I research and write about Ofsted, sharing stories, the more I am inundated with stories like yours. It’s good to hear that you are giving back in another way, and I am sorry to hear that you went through such trauma; even though this is common, it should NOT be the norm. Lovely to hear that you took the brave step to go back into teaching. If you’re interested, I’ve tried to offer a balanced approach, with some alternatives

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