Ofsted

Spielman: Oliver has the ‘steel and integrity’ for top Ofsted job

Current chief inspector says she is 'very optimistic' about the tenure of her successor as she prepares to leave after 7 years

Current chief inspector says she is 'very optimistic' about the tenure of her successor as she prepares to leave after 7 years

9 Sep 2023, 11:36

Amanda Spielman

Sir Martyn Oliver has the “integrity and steel” to take on the job of Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman has said.

The current boss is due to hand over to Oliver at the end of this year, and told the ResearchED annual conference in London this morning she was “very optimistic about his tenure”.

Oliver, the chief executive of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, was a fierce critic of Spielman’s new inspection framework in 2020, but softened his stance when he appeared in front of MPs this week.

Sir Martyn Oliver
Sir Martyn Oliver

The new approach increased the focus of inspections on the quality of education rather that pupil outcomes.

Oliver said Spielman “should be hugely congratulated for forcing the substance of education front and centre”.

In his application statement, published by the education committee, he said the system “does not need a new framework imposed upon it at this time”.

“Instead, the next HMCI should embed what is good but seek to address the rapidly changing context that education is facing to ensure that inspections are not only valid and, crucially, fair but also reliable, objective and empathetic.”

‘Real leadership in difficult situations’

Spielman said today she had “known Martyn Oliver for a number of years and I believe he’s got the kind of integrity and steel you need to do this job”.

“And I know that colleagues have seen him show real leadership in difficult situations, which I am very pleased to hear about and so I’m very optimistic about his tenure and really, really pleased to be handing over to him.”

Asked for her main piece of advice to her successor, Spielman said: “My advice to him above all is actually listening. Getting out there and listening.

“I know he’s been running a very successful set of schools, and schools with many challenges. But it’s in one part of the country, he’s probably less familiar with other parts of the country.

“I’ve learned so much from getting out. Some of you may know this will be the first year I think that I haven’t been abler to stay for the whole day.”

Lack of results ‘probably’ increased inspection variability

The current Ofsted chief inspector was quizzed for her advice for a school which due to high levels of pupil movement lacked progress data.

Spielman said: “I think the EIF is made for you because it helps you demonstrate what you’re doing with your curriculum and how you’re putting it into action even though you may not have results.”

She pointed out Ofsted had “inspected [without results] for a year and a half” because ministers “withheld” school-level results data from teacher-assessed grades.

“So we simply were inspecting with no idea. There was probably a bit more variability, in the absence of results.

“We do have the data back in now but inspectors do have the confidence to look at what sits underneath and judge very positively in the absence of data.”

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