Ofsted

Sir Martyn Oliver sets out his priorities for the Ofsted top job

The OGAT boss has pledged to run a 'big listen' with the sector and is eyeing allowing HMIs to work in schools

The OGAT boss has pledged to run a 'big listen' with the sector and is eyeing allowing HMIs to work in schools

5 Sep 2023, 13:37

More from this author

Sir Martyn Oliver

Sir Martyn Oliver has pledged to undertake a “big listen” and wants to let senior inspectors work in schools if he becomes Ofsted chief inspector.

But the Outwood Grange Academies Trust boss has warned that “the last thing the system needs right now … is a revolution”.

Oliver was confirmed as the government’s preferred candidate for the job back in July. If approved, he will begin his initial five-year term on January 1.

It comes against a backdrop of widespread calls for reform of the watchdog, following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.

During a pre-appointment hearing led by parliament’s education committee this morning, Oliver summarised his three main ambitions for the role.

“First up is to go through a big listen,” he told MPs, adding in the past Ofsted had faced accusations of being “combative or cold”.

“We need to be empathetic to the challenges that the system is facing. We need to listen to all of the services that Ofsted inspects.”

‘I’ve walked the walk’

He added that his prior experience gave him the empathy needed for the role.

“I think my skillset is that I’ve worked in the most difficult schools, the worst attaining schools, the worst progress schools, some of the worst buildings, some of the greatest challenges in pupil number … schools that no-one wants,” he said.

“So people will know that I’ve got the experience, I’ve walked the walk…There is a series of expertise and experience that I can bring to the system and say, ‘I know what it’s like to do this. I can talk to you with empathy’.”

His second priority is to ensure Ofsted inspections are conducted “by the system”.

“So that’s getting more leaders … I want to make a direct plea to all of the professional bodies, to the trade unions, to the headteachers and leaders in all of the services … and say, how can we involve you in far greater aspect as the Ofsted inspectors and His Majesty’s Inspectors in the future?” he said.

He also suggested Ofsted could find a way to manage “conflicts of interest” to allow HMIs to work in “part time” in other organisations. Currently HMIs are full-time inspectors.

Oliver said some trusts are advertising for former HMIs and “that means often we’re losing all of this talent. Is there a way in which – many institutions are having to look at flexible working – does Ofsted need to embrace that? I think all of these things can be tackled and answered.”

Switch to ‘holistic’ reporting

A third aim, which Oliver said he was “perhaps the most keen on” was to “look holistically” at how disadvantaged children were supported by all services in each local authority area.

“I was delighted that in the pandemic … One of the things which did change is that at last this seeming divide between multi-academy trusts and local authorities really broke down. The information was just flowing one to the other,” he told the committee.

“I think we’ve got to build upon that now and say we need to get all agents, all actors working for all of the children, especially the most vulnerable, so I want to report in a different way as well as give you the sectional headings against those services as they are right now.”

Oliver’s appointment, if ratified, will come at a time of heightened scrutiny for the inspectorate.

In June, months after anger and debate had been levelled at Ofsted for the way in which it conducts inspections, it announced a raft of changes.

This included a committed to review its complaints procedure following a consultation with the sector, which Oliver said he was “delighted” about.

“I’d be really interested to see the outcomes of that consultation…and [if appointed] how then I can take that forward.”

‘Interested in views about single-word judgments’

The announced changes have been criticised by the sector as not going far enough, including the decision to keep single-word judgments in place for school inspections.

Oliver said he thought “parents do like the ability to describe their school simply”.

But he added that he was interested in views from parents and children about “how much faith” they “put upon the single-word judgment” as well as alternative ways of reporting outcomes.

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t have that one word, I’m asking what will you do [without it].”

OGAT – which runs 42 schools – is one of the country’s most successful turnaround trusts.

Oliver, who started teaching in 1996, is also a national leader of education and helped found the National Institute of Teaching.

The education committee will now decide whether to give his appointment their backing, but the government can appoint him either way.

Latest education roles from

Electrical Installation Trainer

Electrical Installation Trainer

Barnsley College

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Merton College

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

South Thames College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Satis Education

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Ofsted

Labour’s Ofsted report cards: How they could work, and the hurdles

Party has vowed to 'enhance the inspection regime by replacing a single headline grade with a new report card...

Lucas Cumiskey
Ofsted

Leaders divided over Labour plan for Ofsted trust inspections

Labour wants Ofsted to inspect trusts as well as individual schools

Lucas Cumiskey
Ofsted

Ofsted: Trusts ‘not convinced’ judgments are ‘appropriate or optimal’

CST tells Ofsted's Big Listen that a separate safeguarding judgment may have 'merit', but warns against rushed move to...

Jack Dyson
Ofsted

Big Listen: Ofsted must embrace ‘far-reaching reform’, say leaders

Ofsted 'still has a long way to go to restore credibility', union bosses tell watchdog's consultation

Lucas Cumiskey

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *