The Big Listen

NatCen is carrying out research to understand parents’/carers’ and the public’s views of and experiences with Ofsted.

About the study

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) have commissioned the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to carry out research as part of the Big Listen, which aims to understand public perceptions of Ofsted. 

NatCen will be carrying out surveys with parents and carers and members of the public, in addition to group discussions with parents and carers. The wider Big Listen activity includes an additional commissioned piece of research (carried out by IFF Research) which will gather views from those that work in the various settings that Ofsted regulates and inspects.

Who is carrying out the research?

The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) is responsible for carrying out this research with parents and carers and members of the public. NatCen is Britain’s largest social research organisation. We have delivered research for many government, regulatory and public bodies, and have expertise in research that involves consulting the public to inform strategic decision-making in policy and practice. We are a non-profit organisation, independent of government departments and political parties.

What will taking part involve?

Parents/Carers survey

Parents and carers of children under 18 years of age who are attending certain education and childcare settings in England will be contacted through their education or childcare provider about taking part in this research. You will be invited to complete a short survey online, which should only take around 10 minutes. Taking part is voluntary. This survey will contain questions about your views and opinions about, and experiences of, Ofsted, including Ofsted’s inspection and regulation practices, and reporting practices. 

Group discussions

At the end of the survey, you will be asked if you are willing to be recontacted to be invited to take part in an online group discussion. Not everyone who indicates that they are willing to be recontacted will be invited to take part. These will involve discussions on parents’/carers’ perceptions of Ofsted, including their approach to inspection and reporting, the impact of Ofsted’s work, and views on alternative approaches to inspection and reporting practice. The group discussions will be conducted by a NatCen researcher and will last for up to 70 minutes. 

As a thank you for taking part in a group discussion, you will receive a £20 high street voucher. 

NatCen Panel survey

For existing members of the NatCen Opinion Panel, the survey wave in April/May includes a section of questions about Ofsted. This includes questions about your general views, opinions, and experiences of Ofsted. These questions will take around 2-3 minutes to complete.

The NatCen Opinion Panel includes thousands of people from across the UK who share their experiences and opinions on a variety of important topics. For further information about the NatCen Opinion Panel visit:

What will happen to any information I give?

The information that we collect will be used for research purposes only. Your name and contact details will not be passed to Ofsted. Your data and any information you give as part of the survey or group discussion will be used for research purposes only, and pseudonymised before reporting. This means that any information that might identify an individual will be removed before the data is analysed. 

No individuals will be identifiable in the findings or our research reports. All information will be treated confidentially. All data will be transferred and stored securely in accordance with UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. NatCen will securely delete any data we hold once the project is complete.

Please note that responses cannot be withdrawn after completion of the survey. If you agree for NatCen to contact you after the survey, you are not committing to take part in a group discussion and are able to withdraw at any stage beforehand. It is not possible to remove an individual’s responses after the focus group has taken place.

Privacy notice

You can read the privacy notice for the study here.

Useful organisations

If you would like more information or support for the issues raised in the Big Listen survey or group discussions, the following organisations may be of help:

Citizens Advice Bureau

For advice on a range of issues. They have offices all over the UK and you can also access advice on their website.

Mind UK

For more information and support for mental health. Mind also provides links for other support networks.

Scope UK

A disability equality charity that provides emotional support and practical advice.

Contact us:

If you would like to confirm the authenticity of this research please see Ofsted’s webpage detailing the two organisations commissioned to help with Ofsted’s Big Listen:

If you have any queries about the research NatCen is conducting as part of the Big Listen, please contact the research team via email at