Martyn Oliver confirmed as next Ofsted chief inspector

Academy trust leader has pledged to champion children and make Ofsted more compassionate
Sir Martyn Oliver. Photo: GOV.UK

By Jonathan Owen

16 Oct 2023

Sir Martyn Oliver has been confirmed as the next chief inspector of education, children’s services and skills, and will start his five year term in January, education secretary Gillian Keegan has announced.

Oliver was Keegan's preferred candidate for the £165,000-a-year job, a decision which was backed by the House of Commons Education Committee after a pre-appointment hearing last month.

He is an “accomplished school and trust leader with a tremendous record of driving up standards”, Keegan said.

Oliver is currently the chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, a multi-academy trust with 41 primary, junior, secondary and alternative provision academies. He was honoured for his services to education in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2022.

Keegan paid tribute to current Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman, who will step down in December and who “successfully led Ofsted through a series of significant reforms in education and children’s services, alongside championing a broad and balanced curriculum”.

“We look forward to building on this vital work with Sir Martyn Oliver to ensure Ofsted continues to evolve," she added.

Commenting on his appointment, Oliver said: “I am looking forward to engaging with all parts of the sector that Ofsted regulates and inspects through a 'Big Listen', so that Ofsted is very much of the system and by the system for the benefit of children and parents.”

He pledged to be “empathetic, compassionate and understanding of the challenges that those of us working in education, children’s services and skills face, especially in terms of the recovery post-Covid”.

Oliver added that he will “ensure that we always take a holistic view for the good of all children, especially the most vulnerable and those who are disadvantaged.”

Appearing before the education committee last month, he warned: “We are facing a tsunami of social breakdown and difficulties in some schools.”

Oliver added: “It would be wrong and naive of me to give an impression that all these people should be shut down, but what I think is that Ofsted needs to have a view and it needs to present it back to the committee here and to the secretary of state to say, again without fear or favour, “this is the provision in an area.””

He also told MPs that Ofsted needs to be “empathetic to the challenges that the system is facing.”

This echoed his statement applying for the job, in which Oliver said that Ofsted had “gone from an organisation seen as combative to one now viewed as cold”. In the statement, he said: “We require a caring and compassionate inspectorate and regulator who never loses sight of the need to support increasingly high outcomes for children.”

And Oliver pledged: “I will be a champion of children.”

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