Headteacher death 'linked' to school inspection

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The Independent Online

The death of an "outstanding" headteacher was "inextricably linked" to the outcome of a school inspection, a sheriff said today.

Irene Hogg's body was discovered at a secluded spot near Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders in March 2008, days after she received critical feedback from the visit.

Ms Hogg, the headteacher at Glendinning Primary School in Galashiels for 18 years, was said to have been "disappointed and visibly distressed" by what she was told.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) found that she decided to take her own life by overdosing on paracetamol and drove her car to the remote spot.

Feeling nauseous and dizzy from the overdose, she somehow became immersed in the cold water of a nearby stream, suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Her family had called for more support surrounding inspections and for a formal procedure to allow headteachers to request postponement of an inspection.

But Sheriff James Farrell did not recommend any changes to how inspections are handled, finding that Scottish Borders Council had "appropriate" and "suitably flexible" procedures in place.

He also declined to make a formal finding that the school inspection was a fact relevant to the circumstances of the 54-year-old's death.

He said: "There may be many facts relevant in a general sense to the circumstances of a death, but all such facts are not necessarily relevant for the purpose of expediting the public interest.

"There can be no doubt that Irene Hogg's death is inextricably linked to the outcome of the Glendinning School inspection on March 2008."

He added that the submission made on behalf of Ms Hogg's brother, to the effect that the inspection was a fact relevant to the circumstances of the death, "falls to be rejected".

Concluding his report, the sheriff said: "What did shine through the mass of evidence however, and was spoken of by witness after witness, was the fact that Glendinning Primary School was a school with a happy, family atmosphere.

"The headteacher, Irene Hogg, was respected and held in high esteem by her staff and by parents, and loved by the many children who over the years were fortunate to have been in her care.

"By virtue of these achievements, Irene Hogg proved herself to be an outstanding headteacher."