Hereford & Worcester

Helen Mann inquest: Head teacher suicide verdict

Helen Mann
Image caption Helen Mann was off work for four weeks with stress, the inquest heard

A head teacher found hanged at her school in Worcestershire killed herself, a coroner has ruled.

The body of Helen Mann, 43, was discovered in a stairwell at Sytchampton First School near Stourport-on-Severn on 5 November.

She had been head at the school for less than six months.

The inquest in Stourport heard Mrs Mann took an overdose following a fitness to work interview days before her death. A verdict of suicide was recorded.

'Felt under pressure'

The inquest heard that the married mother of two had been concerned the school would lose its outstanding Ofsted rating after taking over and was later off for four weeks with work-related stress.

Following the fitness to work interview she took a number of sleeping pills.

In summing up the evidence, deputy coroner Marguerite Elcock said it was clear to her that Mrs Mann was a "dedicated and professional teacher, with high expectations of herself".

The coroner added that Mrs Mann "felt under pressure in her new role as head teacher at Sytchampton Primary School and feared failure.

"When this got too much she took her own life."

Ms Elcock also praised Mrs Mann's husband Philip's "stoicism and love and support for his wife" which she said shone through throughout the proceedings.

'Valued colleague'

In a statement released by West Mercia Police on behalf of the family, Mr Mann said his wife was "desperately missed by him and their children".

Mr Mann said: "Helen was the nicest, kindest and most dedicated person you could ever meet.

"She was always there for her family and her work, which were her whole life.

"Helen worked in a number of other schools in Worcestershire: St Kenelm's CE Primary School in Romsley, St Peter's CE First School in Droitwich Spa and Millfields First School in Bromsgrove.

"Over her long teaching career she has impressed many children, parents and colleagues with her hard work and devotion to improving a child's education.

"Her devotion continued outside of school as most weekends were occupied with boys' rugby at Worcester RFC, boys' football with Worcester Colts and boys' cricket with Old Elizabethans CC.

"She was always an involved parent offering help with organisation, lifts and admin which was always gratefully received."

One of the school's governors, Dr Stephanie Gait said: "The staff and governing body at Sytchampton First School have been supporting the coroner with her inquiries.

"We hope that the completion of this process this week will help us as a school community to move forwards whilst still remembering Mrs Mann for her time as head teacher here."

Gail Quinton, director of children's services for Worcestershire County Council, said: "We were shocked and saddened by Helen Mann's untimely death last November and our thoughts remain with her family and friends at this difficult time.

"We have lost a valued colleague who spent her professional life dedicated to improving children's education."

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