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NAHT takes first step towards judicial review proceedings against Ofsted following its failure to pause inspections

Today (Friday 31st March), school leaders’ union NAHT has written to His Majesty’s Chief Inspector to demand a suspension of Ofsted inspections while steps are taken to address the risk to the mental health of school staff and enable suicide risk prevention to be put in place.

The letter is the first step in judicial review proceedings and cites Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which imposes obligations on public authorities to take reasonable steps where there is a real and immediate risk of a loss of life.

NAHT argues that the recent death of Ruth Perry, and the citing of Ofsted inspections as a factor in the deaths of 10 teachers*, indicates the human rights of school staff are not being protected by the current Ofsted regime and that immediate action is needed to minimise harm and protect lives.

NAHT has called on Ofsted to pause inspections whilst a review is carried out to identify and put in place immediate measures to minimise the risk of harm to school staff.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The tragic death of Ruth Perry has shone a light on the intolerable pressure placed on school leaders and their staff during Ofsted inspections. It shouldn’t take a tragedy to force change, but Ofsted has shown no inclination to change on its own.

“We have requested that Ofsted works with NAHT, as recognised representatives of school leaders, to identify and agree immediate actions that can be taken. It is essential that these actions are discussed and agreed with NAHT if it is to make any meaningful difference. It needs to be done with us, not to us. Up until now those requests have been ignored. As such, we have no alternative but to go down this route.

“Whilst Ofsted have issued warm words, that is simply not good enough and it has shown nothing like the understanding or urgency that this situation requires.

“School leaders are determined that this should be a watershed moment and that such a tragedy can never be allowed to happen again.”

NAHT have demanded a reply from Ofsted by Thursday 6 April.  

* As revealed in a recent Observer article. The underlying academic report cited by The Observer can be found here.

First published 31 March 2023