Hereford & Worcester

Helen Mann inquest: Head teacher 'worried over Ofsted review'

Helen Mann
Image caption Helen Mann began working at Sytchampton Endowed First School in 2011

A head teacher found dead at her school was concerned it would lose its top Ofsted rating, an inquest has heard.

Helen Mann, 43, was found hanged at Sytchampton Endowed First School, near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, in November.

Mrs Mann had been head of the school for less than six months when she died.

The inquest in Stourport was told Mrs Mann was appointed after the school had been without a permanent head teacher for five terms.

Dr Stephanie Galt, chair of the school's board of Governors, told the inquest Mrs Mann was "very concerned" about when the next Ofsted review would be.

'Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed'

Dr Galt said: "The school had been 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.

"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 her."

The inquest heard the Local Education Authority had undertaken its own assessment and had revealed in May last year the school was unlikely to maintain its top Ofsted rating.

Dr Galt described Mrs Mann as "positive" when she joined the school.

"A fellow governor described her as 'bright-eyed and bushy-tailed'," she told the hearing.

"She was bringing enthusiasm to the job and to achieve what she wanted to see for the school.

"She was doing exactly what we hoped she would."

The inquest heard one of the first tasks she had to perform was to make one part-time teacher, Angela Mercer, redundant at the end of the school year - something she found difficult and which was having a "detrimental effect upon her".

'Looked dreadful'

Dr Galt said the employment issue was "not of her making" and Mrs Mann found the hearing "very difficult".

"A claim for unfair dismissal was made and had to be dealt with and that weighed heavily on her," Dr Galt told the hearing.

The inquest was told the school, through the Local Education Authority lawyers, reached an out-of-court settlement with Miss Mercer in October last year.

Jacqueline Stanley, a teaching assistant, described how ill Mrs 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.

"My thoughts were 'Oh my goodness you shouldn't be coming back to work'," she told the inquest.

Marguerite Elcock, Deputy Coroner for Worcestershire, adjourned the hearing until Tuesday.

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