GUEST BLOG: Big ListenAhead of our upcoming NASS webinar on Thursday 16th May with Ofsted, we are delighted to have Sir Martyn Oliver share his views on the Big Listen in this blog. He explains the significance of the Big Listen, why Ofsted is doing it, and why it is important for special schools and the children and young people they work with to take part.


"We know that the work we do with you, with special schools, is some of the most complicated. But that also means it’s even more vital that we get it right."

Ofsted is currently undertaking our Big Listen We've already heard from over 15,000 people, including nearly 3,000 teachers, and over 3,000 children.

That means it's already the largest consultation Ofsted has ever done, and we still have a few weeks left. But it's not just about hearing from the most people, we want to hear from as many different people as possible.

Hearing from everyone

In particular, we want to hear from voices that sometimes go unheard. From the most vulnerable, from those facing unique challenges, and from those our work can do the most to help.

So, if you haven't taken part yet, please do. And please ask your colleagues, the people you work with in other agencies, and most importantly, the children and families you and we work for, to take part too.

Because it's only by hearing from everyone we work with and work for, that we will be able to build the best possible system of regulation and inspection. A system that works for everyone not just those with the most influence.

We know that the work we do with you, with special schools, is some of the most complicated. But that also means it’s even more vital that we get it right.

Making it as easy and as accessible as possible

We’ve tried to make the survey as easy to complete as possible. There are questions on a whole range of topics, but you can answer as many or as few of them as you like. And if you want to tell us about something not covered in the questions, then there are free-text boxes in every section.

We’ve also tried to make sure it is as accessible as possible. This includes:

  • developing the survey on a secure platform using an accessible template that is compatible with widely used screen readers.
  • including a short supporting video with audio and subtitles explaining in a child friendly way who we are, what the Big Listen is and why it is important for them to give us their views.
  • adding a locally recorded audio alongside each question.
  • making the survey anonymous and only asking for minimal demographic information.
  • keeping the children’s survey deliberately short with 5 questions that everyone can answer and 2 additional questions for children who have or are receiving support from a social worker.

As well as taking these steps, there is a dedicated email address on the front page of the survey that can be used for anyone having difficulties accessing the survey.

As part of the Big Listen we’ll also be:

  • conducting commissioned research to hear from as many people as possible.
  • hosting focus groups and roundtables with key audiences.
  • attending events across the country to meet and listen to practitioners, parents, and children.

Tell us what we can do better

I also want to reassure you that if you and your children take part, your voices will be heard. Every voice will be heard.

The Big Listen will be followed by real action. We want your ideas for small changes and big reforms. And nothing is off the table.

So, if you think there’s something we could be doing better, then let us know. Perhaps there's something that:

  • would make your work easier?
  • would improve life for the children you educate?
  • would make our work more accessible?
  • would improve our inspection practice?
  • would drive up standards for all children?

Whatever it is, we want to hear it. So please take part. And please encourage and help others to do so too. You have until 31st May, for both the adult's and children's survey.




If you are a NASS member, you can join us for our webinar with Ofsted on Thursday 16th May, 10am to 12pm. Book your place here: Ofsted's Big Listen webinar, Thursday 16th May 2024 | NASS (

Joining us for the webinar will be:

  • Victor Shafiee, Deputy Director for Independent, Unregistered Schools and SEND
  • Philippa Darley , Senior HM Inspector for Independent Schools
  • Steve Shaw , Senior HM Inspector for SEND and Alternative Provision
  • Oliver Cardinali, Principle Adviser on Independent and Unregistered Schools, as well as Head of Strategic Priorities (temporary).