A Devon school leader has called on classroom inspections to be reviewed after the death of a headteacher after her school was down rated by Ofsted.

The concern comes after the death of headteacher Ruth Perry who is said to have killed herself in January while awaiting an Ofsted report that downgraded her school, Caversham Primary in Reading, from outstanding to inadequate. Her family has said the inspection regime put her under 'intolerable pressure.' They said they were in 'no doubt that her death was a direct result' of the pressure put on her by the process and outcome of the inspection.

Teachers and unions have since called on Ofsted to pause inspections and to change the framework and the way they categorise the standards - from single words (such as outstanding, good and inadequate), to more of a narrative, which could highlight where schools were doing well and where they needed improvements.

Ofsted's chief inspector Amanda Spielman has resisted pausing inspections, saying that would not be in the interests of children, that inspections 'play an important part' in maintaining standards in education by looking at what children are taught, assesses behaviour and checks teachers know what to do if children are at risk or are being harmed elsewhere.

However, she did say the debate about reforming inspections to remove grades was a 'legitimate' one, paving the way for dialogue.

Dr Paul Gosling, headteacher of Exeter Road Community Primary School in Exmouth, and NAHT school leaders' union president called for the 'cliff-edge' grades to be scrapped, suggesting they be replaced with a list of what a school does well and what needs improving.

He said the one-word assessments do not give parents much information because schools were complex organisations.

He stopped short of calling on Ofsted to pause inspections, but asked for an immediate review of the 'one-size-fits-all strategy. He also said school heads were facing a series of pressures, on top of inspections, including recruitment problems, funding shortages and the consequences of the pandemic.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said: 'Ofsted has completely underestimated the strength of feeling amongst educational professionals. The warm words and sympathy they have expressed are welcome, but they are simply not enough.

'School leaders want to see tangible actions being taken to reduce the intolerable pressure that the current inspection regime places on everyone in schools, and they want to see those actions now.

'We are not against inspection per se, we simply believe that a fairer, more humane approach is possible. We also believe parents would support a new approach.

'The decision not to pause inspections, even for a short period, was a terrible mistake. It only serves to reinforce the view that Ofsted is tin-eared and shows scant regard for the wellbeing of school leaders. We believe this should be a watershed moment and Ofsted should look at this the same way too. Now is the time to work together for a completely new approach to school inspection. Carrying on as normal is not an acceptable answer.'