School inspections in England will be halted until later in the month while inspectors receive training, Ofsted’s new chief inspector has announced.

Routine inspections will not take place in schools in England at the start of term, Sir Martyn Oliver said, as he launched a package of training for inspectors, to ensure all receive mental health training.

It comes after school leaders’ unions called for Ofsted inspections to be suspended to allow time for “meaningful action to be taken” following the inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.

Mrs Perry killed herself after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

The Comet: Ofsted's new chief inspector, Sir Martyn OliverOfsted's new chief inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver (Image: PA)

Last month, senior coroner Heidi Connor concluded that the Ofsted inspection on November 15 and 16 in 2022 “likely contributed” to Mrs Perry’s death.

Sir Martyn, who has taken over as Ofsted’s chief inspector, has said routine school inspections in England will not restart next week and will instead begin later in January.

Next week inspectors will receive training from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England who will then lead a rolling programme of further mental health awareness training for all inspectors.

The new chief inspector will focus on Ofsted’s response to the coroner’s inquest into the death of Mrs Perry, and Sir Martyn will respond in full to the coroner’s findings in the coming weeks.

The Ofsted chief will reach out to parents and education professionals about the watchdog’s approach to inspections as part of The Big Listen which will begin later this term.

Sir Martyn, who used to be chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust (Ogat), said: “Over the last year, since the tragic death of Ruth Perry, our inspections have come under great scrutiny.

“I’m determined that we learn from this to improve the way we work and respond fully to the coroner’s inquest, taking tangible actions to address the concerns raised.

“A lot has been done already, but a lot more can be done now – starting with a robust programme of mental health awareness training for all our inspectors. That begins next week and will become an integral part of how we train and develop our people.

“The materials we use and the changes we have already made, along with much more to come, will be made available for all to see.

“We are determined to bring about a fresh start in the new year to inspire greater confidence in our work among parents and the sectors we inspect and regulate.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “We welcome this decision and Sir Martyn’s commitment to listening to the profession’s concerns about the current inspection system.”

He added: “Today’s announcement should pave the way for Ofsted to fully address each area of concern raised by the coroner, but it must also set Ofsted on a path of wider reform in the long term – including the removal of single-phrase judgments.”

Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “Sir Martyn Oliver’s announcement of a pause in school inspections signals that the chief inspector recognises that it is now time for Ofsted to listen to the voice of educators and their unions.

“The pause should be the start of a root and branch reform of school inspection.

“Our present system is inconsistent, unfair and unsuccessful in promoting school improvement.

“Ofsted is a harmful presence in our schools and needs to be replaced with a collaborative system that truly reflects a rounded picture of the work of schools.

“Parents, students and teachers all deserve better.”