Children's Voices Shaping Education Inspection - Ofsted's Big Listen

Sam Preston 17 April 2024 1 min read
Children's Voices Shaping Education Inspection - Ofsted's Big Listen feature image

In a groundbreaking step towards inclusive governance, Ofsted has extended its outreach to directly engage with the educational system's primary stakeholders — the children. Under the banner of the 'Big Listen', Ofsted is not just seeking feedback but actively empowering pupils to shape how the organisation can enhance its operations and better serve the interests of children across the nation: Ofsted - Children's Consultation.

The online survey, tailored for children aged up to 18, endeavours to capture students' firsthand experiences and perspectives regarding the inspection processes carried out by Ofsted in schools and social care settings. Children are invited to express their opinions on various aspects, including the focus areas during inspections, suggestions for improvement, and mechanisms to gather their feedback effectively.

Launched alongside the broader 12-week consultation targeting school staff, education organisations, and parents, this children-centric survey aims to ensure that the voices of the most directly impacted stakeholders are heard and valued. With questions carefully designed to maintain anonymity and safeguard personal information, the survey provides a safe space for honest responses from participants.

One of the key inquiries of the survey revolves around the priorities children believe Ofsted inspectors should emphasise during their school visits. Ranging from the quality of teaching and support for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to the overall well-being and safety of pupils, the survey enables children to articulate their concerns and aspirations for their educational environment.

Furthermore, the survey delves into how Ofsted can effectively gather children's perspectives during inspections, acknowledging the importance of directly engaging with students to obtain holistic insights into educational experiences. Additionally, it seeks to understand the prevalence of social care support among respondents, highlighting Ofsted's commitment to addressing the diverse needs and challenges children face across different contexts.

Alongside the online survey, Ofsted has announced plans to conduct a series of 'Big Listen' focus groups, specifically targeting care-experienced children and young people, including those within the youth justice system. Scheduled for May and June, these sessions aim to provide a platform for marginalised voices and ensure that the feedback received reflects the realities and concerns of diverse populations.

Complementing these initiatives are independent research endeavours undertaken by NatCen and IFF Research, aimed at gathering insights from the wider public, parents, and professionals. Through a multifaceted approach encompassing surveys, focus groups, and consultations, Ofsted seeks to glean comprehensive feedback that will inform future changes to inspection and regulation practices.

Sir Martyn Oliver, Chief Inspector of Ofsted, emphasised the importance of prioritising children's perspectives in shaping educational policies and practices. By actively soliciting feedback from children, Ofsted aims to uphold its commitment to ensuring high standards of education and care for all children, irrespective of their backgrounds or circumstances.

As the 'Big Listen' consultation progresses, Ofsted encourages maximum participation from children, urging them to seize this opportunity to enhance educational oversight in the UK. With the children's survey set to conclude on 31 May, every voice counts in this transformative endeavour towards a more inclusive and responsive educational landscape.

Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director