Oliver vows to ‘work with whole sector’ to ‘create best’ Ofsted

Sir Martyn Oliver will appear before MPs in September after being confirmed as DfE's pick for Ofsted chief

Sir Martyn Oliver will appear before MPs in September after being confirmed as DfE's pick for Ofsted chief

20 Jul 2023, 10:51

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Sir Martyn Oliver

Sir Martyn Oliver has vowed to work “closely with the whole sector” to “create the best system” for children after being confirmed as the Department for Education’s preferred candidate for Ofsted chief inspector.

Gillian Keegan confirmed selection of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust boss this morning.

In a statement, Oliver said he was “deeply honoured and hugely privileged” by the recommendation.

He will now appear before the education committee in September. If approved, he will begin his initial five-year term on January 1.

Oliver said: “Subject to the pre-appointment hearing, I can promise that I will work extremely hard and very closely with the whole sector so that we can together build on what has been done to date to create the best system in all areas of education, children’s services and skills for the benefit of children and young people.”

Oliver demonstrated ‘exemplary leadership’

Keegan said Oliver has “demonstrated exemplary leadership and an unwavering commitment to driving up standards in areas of disadvantage in his time as a school and trust leader.

“I am confident the breadth of Martyn’s experience will enable him to build on this vital work as Ofsted moves into the future.”

She thanked current chief inspector Amanda Spielman “for successfully steering Ofsted over the last seven years, introducing key reforms including hugely important new education and social care inspection frameworks”.

Spielman will leave the role at the end of this year.

Oliver had been the frontrunner for the role alongside fellow trust boss Sir Ian Bauckham.

Ofsted appointment could be controversial

OGAT is one of country’s most successful turnaround trusts, with many of the schools it takes on in deprived areas.

Of its 35 schools that have been inspected, 28 have improved their Ofsted rating, with six staying the same. It now has 10 ‘outstanding’ schools.

It is also among four trusts that founded the flagship National Institute of Teaching.

But the appointment is likely to be controversial. OGAT’s zero-tolerance approach to education has been criticised: from its schools high exclusion rates to facing a legal challenge over its use of isolation booths. A pupil claimed they had spent almost a third of their time at school in isolation.

Schools Week also first revealed the trust had run “flattening the grass” assemblies where ex teachers said pupils were shouted at and humiliated.

Oliver also sat on the government commission on race, which was widely criticised for underplaying racism.

Oliver, who started teaching in 1996, is a national leader of education and is a trustee at the Education Endowment Foundation and the Office for Students. He was also a founding trustee of the Confederation of School Trusts.

Oliver was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year for his services to education.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of leaders’ union NAHT, said: “This appointment comes at a critical moment in Ofsted’s history, with there now being widespread acceptance that significant reform to school inspection in England is urgently required.

“Subject to the appointment being approved, we look forward to engaging with Sir Martyn and discussing what role a reformed inspectorate should play going forward.”

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  1. It is concerning that an academy trust boss will lead Ofsted and inspections. Schools who are rated inadequate are issued with an academisation order. How can Mr Oliver be impartial? He has a mandate to academise, which is aligned with the government.