PARENTS

School Head Who Took Her Own Life Was Scared Of Losing 'Outstanding' Ofsted Rating

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015
Inquest is opened into primary school head's suicide

An inquest into the death of a primary school head teacher has heard that she feared her school was going to lose its 'outstanding' Ofsted grading.

Helen Mann, 43, killed herself in her school office less than six months into her role at Sytchampton Endowed First School, Worcestershire.

The mum-of-two was said to be 'struggling profoundly' with her work, and had been 'left tearful' after a meeting with governors resulted in her having to make a part-time teacher redundant.

She told the teacher Angela Mercer, that she found the prospect of telling her she had lost her job 'overwhelming', and became more anxious when the teacher said she would claim unfair dismissal.

Mrs Mann was found at the school on November 5 last year, on the first day back after the half-term break.

The chair of the governors for the school, Dr Stephanie Gait, told the hearing that Mrs Mann was very worried after a warning had been issued by the local authority's 'school improvement adviser' following a two-day visit to the school which had been ranked as 'outstanding' in its previous inspections.

Dr Gait said: "She was concerned that it wouldn't be classified as 'outstanding' if they were to come in soon. That had been mentioned in at least one governors' meeting and we all said that we understood this would be the case but not through any fault of hers."

Dr Gait described Mrs Mann as being 'bright-eyed and bushy-tailed' when she joined the 80-pupil school, but exhausted after the summer break. She told the court that her good start at the school had been 'blighted' by having to terminate Mrs Mercer's employment.

Mrs Mercer told the inquest that she found out she was going to be made redundant from her post when her son was told by a pupil during a karate lesson at the school.

"I went to see Mrs Mann and she was clearly distressed. She was concerned for me, but also she found it overwhelming," Mrs Mercer said. "I was signed off sick for two weeks before half-term. I am told that when Mrs Mann found out, she broke down in tears."

Mrs Mann was signed off sick just three weeks into the autumn term after collapsing during a meeting. When she returned to work, a colleague expressed concern about her.

The hearing continues.

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