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Primary Education News
News Headteacher found hanged had worried about losing Ofsted rating
Helen Mann, 43, was concerned that her school would lose its 'outstanding' Ofsted status if inspectors came again soon
A headteacher who was found hanged at her primary school had been concerned that it would lose its top level Ofsted rating and that her plans to transform the curriculum were not happening quickly enough, an inquest heard .
Helen Mann, 43, was on her first day back at work after four weeks of sick leave when she was discovered dead at her school in Worcestershire in November last year. The mother-of-two had set about transforming Sytchampton Endowed First school, near Stourport-on-Severn, after her appointment as its head six months earlier.
But while the school had been classified as "outstanding" in its previous inspection, Mann was worried that it could lose that status if inspectors came again soon.
Worcestershire coroner's court heard that the local education authority had undertaken its own assessment and had revealed in May last year that the school was unlikely to maintain its rating.
The inquest also heard that one of the first tasks Mann had to do was make a part-time teacher redundant at the end of the school year – something she found difficult and had a "detrimental effect on her".
Dr Stephanie Gait, chair of the school's governors, said that Mann had been concerned about when the school's next Ofsted review would be. "The school was classified as 'outstanding' in its previous inspection and she was concerned that it wouldn't be classified as 'outstanding' if they were to come in soon," she added.
"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."
Gait said when Mann was appointed, the school had been without a permanent headteacher for five terms following the retirement of the previous head.
"She was bringing enthusiasm to the job and to achieving what she wanted to see for the school. She was doing exactly what we hoped she would."
Gait said that Mann set a "very ambitious" plan for transforming the school but it was probably "not realistic" in the timescale she had hoped for. "I kept trying to reassure her that she was doing what we hoped she would do and everything was fine. I was concerned at that stage she was not the bright-eyed bushy-tailed young woman who joined us and was being weighed down by what she saw as problems."
After the six-week summer holiday break, Gait said Mann had appeared "weighed down" by "what she wanted to achieve" and had noticeably lost weight.
A few weeks into the autumn term, Mann had told her she had collapsed at a meeting and was taking sick leave after seeking medical advice.
After four weeks off, Mann planned to return to work on 5 November, the day she died. Jacqueline Stanley, a teaching assistant, described how ill Mann looked when she came into the school to discuss her return after the half-term period."She looked dreadful. It was lovely to see her, but she looked so ill," she said.
The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.