An independent inspectorate? Addressing the paradoxes of educational inspection in 2013

Baxter, Jacqueline (2014). An independent inspectorate? Addressing the paradoxes of educational inspection in 2013. School Leadership & Management, 34(1) pp. 21–38.



Recent changes to the English education system have resulted in the September 2012 Inspection framework. To a far greater extent than its predecessors this Schedule looks to create a stronger relationship between the inspection agency Ofsted (Office for standards in Education), and to extend the agency’s already substantial reach and influence into the areas of teacher professional development and pupil attainment. An explicitly far tougher framework, the 2012 schedule places far greater emphasis on teaching and learning and on lesson observation as a means of judging teacher effectiveness and pupil attainment whilst concomitantly aiming to enhance the credibility of both judgements and agency by creating an enhanced professional relationship between inspectors and school staff. Drawing on Clarke’s theoretical framework of performance paradoxes in public service inspection, this paper argues that in attempting to address concerns over the agencies independence, the 2012 Inspection Framework and concomitant re-modelling of the inspection workforce serve rather to compound them. The paper concludes that this combined with profound changes in the English educational landscape presents problems for the agency which may in the longer term prove intractable.

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