Sir Martyn Oliver begins term at Ofsted with mental health awareness training for inspectors

  • Sir Martyn Oliver begins 5-year term as His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
  • Immediate package of training for inspectors on mental health awareness, meaning a later start to routine school inspections.
  • Sir Martyn’s Big Listen to follow Ofsted’s response to the Ruth Perry inquest, marking a determination to hear from parents and professionals.

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 (see the Notes to editors). 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 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 know 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.


Notes to editors

Recently announced changes to school inspections include:

  • scheduling inspectors to return more quickly to schools graded inadequate because of ineffective safeguarding but which are otherwise performing well
  • changes to Ofsted’s complaints process following a consultation held last year
  • the introduction of a duty helpline to take calls directly from providers during and after an inspection
  • changes to school handbooks, to make clear that school leaders can be joined by colleagues in meetings with inspectors, and can share inspection outcomes with colleagues, family, medical advisers and their wider support group, before sharing with parents
  • delivering seminars across all Ofsted’s regions to support leaders of previously exempt outstanding schools ahead of their next inspection

Further changes will be announced soon – as Ofsted continues to respond to the coroner’s findings and her regulation 28 report.


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