Schools leaders in Southampton have launched a new support network to “help each other through the strains of inspections”.
Called the ‘Caversham Covenant’ in memory of head Ruth Perry, heads in the Ofsted “window” will get a “buddy” so they “know there is someone they can talk to before, during and after inspection”.
Other support will include a directory of staff with Ofsted experience that can be called on over concerns about the conduct of inspections.
There will also be an “understanding that for negative Ofsted inspections, the default solution is to support the head and current leadership team to address the issues causing concern”.
Caversham was the name of the Berkshire primary school led by Perry, who died by suicide. A coroner ruled an Ofsted inspection contributed to her death.
The covenant is described as a “public declaration of how all parties can all work together to support each other”.
Southampton City Council will meet school leaders from local maintained schools, trusts and unions at an event today to sign the covenant before it’s shared with schools.
Elizabeth Salisbury, NAHT regional head for South Central, said: “This is an admirable and inspiring move by local education leaders in Southampton, to come together and do what they can to ease some of the damaging strain Ofsted inspection can put on a school and school’s head teacher and leadership team.
“While we have at the start of this year heard some encouraging words promising change from the new Chief Inspector nationally, there are still local schools in the Ofsted ‘window’ in Southampton who are in need of support now.
“It is great to see education leaders stepping up to help themselves and working with local authorities and elected officials to improve the situation as best they can.”
Ofsted inspections are due to restart this week after a pause so inspectors could be trained in mental health wellbeing.
Those involved in the covenant include: Aspire Community trust, Bridge Education Trust, Reach Co-operative Trust, Southampton Co-operative Learning Trust, Southampton Local Authority, Southampton Council, school leaders’ union NAHT, Southampton NEU, Southampton NASUWT, Primary Heads Conference, and the Southampton secondary heads group.