‘My reputation’s on the line – if this doesn’t come off, I’ll lose my job’

Martyn Oliver is a former portrait artist who now has the weight of the entire academy system on his shoulders. In taking on schools from the failed Wakefield City Academies Trust, the controversial Outwood Grange boss is fighting a battle for the beleaguered MAT model – the stakes couldn’t be higher, he tells Will Hazell

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Martyn Oliver can confound preconceptions. The burly chief executive of Outwood Grange rattles off statistics about his multi-academy trust’s finances and performance at bewildering speed.

If you were asked to guess the subject that he once taught, you would probably think maths.

Then again, his use of phrases like “seven-strand transformation model” might suggest business studies.

In fact, Oliver was an art teacher – a “fairly unusual” background for a MAT CEO, he admits. He even worked as a classically trained portraitist before becoming a teacher – a revelation that visibly surprises his ...

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