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Sir Martyn Oliver begins term at Ofsted

Sir Martyn Oliver Ofsted

Sir Martyn Oliver will embark on a Big Listen with all sectors Ofsted inspects and regulates at the start of his tenure as His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

The Big Listen, to begin later this term, will allow Sir Martyn to hear directly from parents and professionals about the strengths and weaknesses of Ofsted’s current approach to inspection and regulation.

As an immediate priority, the new Chief Inspector will focus on Ofsted’s response to the coroner’s inquest into the tragic death of Ruth Perry.

Sir Martyn will respond in full to the coroner’s findings in the coming weeks, building on the work already done. Today, Sir Martyn has announced that routine school inspections in the spring term will begin later in January to accommodate mental health awareness training for inspectors in the first week of term.

At the beginning of next week, Sir Martyn will lead initial training for all inspectors. The session will also include training and support from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, who will then lead a rolling programme of further mental health awareness training for all inspectors. Details of this training will be published, ensuring it is embedded throughout the professions.  

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver said:

“I’m delighted and honoured to join Ofsted as His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills. And I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Amanda Spielman, for her tireless work in this role over the past 7 years.

“My full job title highlights the breadth of our work. We help raise standards for children and learners at every stage of their lives. But the public probably knows us best for inspecting schools. Over the last year, since the tragic death of Ruth Perry, our inspections have come under great scrutiny. I’m determined that we learn from this to improve the way we work and respond fully to the coroner’s inquest, taking tangible actions to address the concerns raised. A lot has been done already, but a lot more can be done now – starting with a robust programme of mental health awareness training for all our inspectors. That begins next week and will become an integral part of how we train and develop our people.

“The materials we use and the changes we have already made, along with much more to come, will be made available for all to see. We are determined to bring about a fresh start in the New Year to inspire greater confidence in our work among parents and the sectors we inspect and regulate.

“Along with immediate training on mental health awareness, one of the first things I want to do is listen – to parents, to professionals in the sectors we work with, and to people with an interest in our work. We are here for children, their parents and carers – and we will serve them best by working constructively, respectfully and empathetically with the experts who are responsible for their education and care. Our people come from these sectors. We understand the pressures they are under – and we will make that clear as we go about our work.”

Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan said:

“Sir Martyn Oliver has an exceptional record of delivering excellence as a school and trust leader. I know that he will bring vision, empathy and leadership to successfully take Ofsted into its next chapter.

“I am looking forward to working closely with Sir Martyn to ensure Ofsted continues to evolve whilst maintaining the accountability necessary to improve lives by raising standards in education and children’s social care.”

The Big Listen

The Big Listen will provide an opportunity for parents and professionals to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of Ofsted’s current approach to inspection and regulation. This exercise marks a determination to work more openly and transparently with parents and the sectors Ofsted inspects and regulates, while always maintaining Ofsted’s focus on ensuring the highest standards of education and care.

Further details of the Big Listen will follow later this term, including opportunities for parents and professionals to be directly involved.

Delay to Ofsted inspections for mental health training ‘positive’, say school leaders

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“This announcement shows that the new Chief Inspector has a greater understanding of the problem. Allowing time for training is a positive signal.

“Next, Sir Martyn needs to agree with the profession immediate steps that will bring sufficient confidence to allow time to develop much needed long-term reform. I look forward discussing this with HMCI this week.”

Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Sir Martyn Oliver’s announcement of a pause in school inspections signals that the Chief Inspector recognises that it is now time for Ofsted to listen to the voice of educators and their unions. The pause should be the start of a root and branch reform of school inspection.

“Our present system is inconsistent, unfair and unsuccessful in promoting school improvement. Ofsted is a harmful presence in our schools and needs to be replaced with a collaborative system that truly reflects a rounded picture of the work of schools. Parents, students and teachers all deserve better.

“The independent Beyond Ofsted report, commissioned by the NEU and led by an independent expert panel chaired by Sir Jim Knight, shows all to clearly that the current regime is not fit for purpose and Ofsted is out of touch with the profession.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We welcome this decision and Sir Martyn’s commitment to listening to the profession’s concerns about the current inspection system. We look forward to speaking later this week with the new Chief Inspector in more detail about his plans to respond to the coroner’s report.”

“Today’s announcement should pave the way for Ofsted to fully address each area of concern raised by the coroner, but it must also set Ofsted on a path of wider reform in the long term – including the removal of single-phrase judgements.”

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